Sunday, January 2, 2011

Yearender: DENR tackles dirty air, geo hazards

The year 2010, which follows a year of destructive typhoons, became a challenge for the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to mitigate the effects of natural disasters in the country.

Early in the year, DENR’s Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) started a geo-hazard mapping project to identify areas in the country that are most vulnerable to natural disasters.

The mapping project identified areas susceptible to floods, landslides, liquefaction and earthquakes. Also taken note of were structures considered hazardous and possible relocation sites in emergencies. Some 1,618 municipalities and cities were surveyed for vulnerability.

The mapping project, completed last October, identified the following provinces susceptible to flooding: Pampanga, Nueva Ecija, Pangasinan, Tarlac, Maguindanao, Bulacan, Metro Manila, North Cotabato, Oriental Mindoro and Ilocos Norte.

Provinces prone to landslides are: Benguet, Mountain Province, Nueva Vizcaya, Kalinga, Apayao, Southern Leyte, Abra, Marinduque, Cebu, Catanduanes and Ifugao.

The DENR is now working on the “densification” of the geohazard maps to provide a specific mapping of villages with steep slopes and bedrocks prone to erosion. To be produced soon are detailed maps with a scale of 1:10,000.

The geohazard maps may be used to prepare for emergencies, to plan land use, and to address concerns on climate change adaptation.

Clean Air

In the next three years, the DENR wants to lessen air pollution by 30 percent.
Environment Secretary Ramon Paje recently issued an order, specifying the numerical emission limits for passenger vehicles and light duty vehicles, as well as limit values for vehicles fitted with direct injection type diesel engines. DENR requires all new passenger and light duty vehicles —those weighing less than 3,500 kilograms of gross vehicular weight —to be introduced in the market by Jan. 1, 2016 to comply with the Euro 4 emission limits. “The quality of air in Metro Manila remains not within the standard set by the government. We need to bring down to a healthier level the amount of smoke and dust particles suspended in the air, and we believe that the best way to do this is to improve the emission of motor vehicles because they contribute at least 80 percent to the pollution load,” Paje said


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