Thursday, March 24, 2011

DENR pressed to close all open dumps

ENVIRONMENTAL groups on Tuesday reiterated their call for the closure of dumps, disguised as “sanitary landfills,” that allegedly pose health risks to people, especially children, living in nearby communities, and are appealing to Environment Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje and concerned local officials to step in.

In a statement, the Bangon Kalikasan Movement, Green Convergence and EcoWaste Coalition identified these dumps as the Waste Custodial Management (Wacuman) Sanitary Landfill and the VGP Engineered Sanitary Landfill in barangay San Isidro and Newtown Development Area, barangay Minuyan Proper—both in the city of San Jose del Monte, Bulacan; and the Payatas Sanitary Landfill in Quezon City.

Joey Papa of Bangon Kalikasan Movement, a member of Green Convergence, said respiratory diseases in children such as cough, colds and asthma, as well as diarrhea and skin diseases, had reportedly risen among residents of communities near the sites.

Papa and members of Green Convergence and residents of Barangays Paradise III, Minuyan and Citrus—an affected area near barangay Minuyan, and Payatas, Quezon City—met recently with Secretary Paje to seek the immediate closure of the three dumps.

Mothers and their children and a barangay health worker affected by the VGP and Payatas dumps complained that dumps have affected their health.

One child from Payatas told Paje he and his playmates are getting sick of asthma because of the foul odor. “Nahihirapan po kaming huminga [We have difficulty breathing],” he added.

Those living near Minuyan, Citrus and Paradise III just below barangay San Isidro, where the Wacuman dump is located, had similar complaints.

“Warm weather followed by a sudden rainfall intensifies the foul odor emitted from the dumps, making it more toxic and causing greater affliction among the residents and compromising their health. Also, the Santo Cristo River near the dump could be contaminated due to potential release of leachate, ” the residents added.

“We urge San Jose del Monte City Mayor Reynaldo San Pedro and Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista to immediately order the closure of the dumps and to set up the ecology center system starting with waste prevention, reduction, segregation in the households together with recycling and composting with the help of the barangay. A model of this system is within Bulacan itself, in the municipality of Calumpit,” said Papa.

San Pedro and Bautista, as local government officials, should lead by example by implementing the essence of Republic Act 9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste Management, especially now that our country is in the midst of intensifying crises in the environment, Papa added.


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