Delaying landfill use is hazardous to health

March 5, 2017

EMB (ENVIRONMENT MANAGEMENT BOARD) REGION 7 had a tone of urgency in its letter  asking all the contending parties in the operation of the Albur Sanitary Landfill to dump their prejudices and make it  regularly operational. 

Because tons  of waste and chemical toxins from 17 towns and the capital city are piled up everyday providing health hazard to man and his environment. While people debate and fight.

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The RA 9003 Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2003  is a 13 year old law mandated upon all LGUs and Bohol is one province who has been violative due to its lack of implementation. 

Its author senator Loren Legarda is aghast that many LGUs are non compliant and if rules were strictly implemented – huge fees would have been slapped on LGUs (Including Bohol) to be pooled under the “Solid Waste Management Fund” of the national government.

Whatever legal, personal or political kinks  that have derailed the full take-off of the Albur Landfill -they seem little and petty compared to the continuing huge  risks that  people in the 17 sitios face everyday.

Unattended waste leads to production of gas and leachate which when released  to the air pollute the environment.  They often bring unpleasant odor and destroy vegetation, They also  pollute underground water and our rivers -the water we drink, the source of life. 

Unattended waste  can lead to unwanted fires and explosions. Polluting the air- the toxins and gas will lead to global warming. 

Man suffer millions of property and lives lost annually  from angry storms and horrid  earthquakes- yet man himself had greatly contributed to their happening.

Unattended wastes  also  attract flies,rats and other insects, creatures that spread infectious diseases.  When waste fall into stagnant water on land , they become breeding ground for disease bearing creatures. 

Plastic usage has  also largely banned for the havoc they wreck when they are thrown in abandon to the environment. Plastic wastes in seas and oceans have been found to be the direct cause of the suffocation and poisoning of fish and other sea animals we need for food and other manufactured products. 

Agriculture processing and industries likewise  produce chemical and radioactive hazards.  Notice the tons of waste coming from hospitals, medical care and research companies.  They carry used syringe needles, bandages, swabs, plasters  which when in contact with open wound leads to diseases like Hepatitis B and C.

Studies concluded many residents exposed to unhealthy and mis-managed toxins are likely to suffer cancer issues. 

What is most unfortunate is that the most highly -risked individuals are pre-school children who are vulnerable to attacks against their fragile health and bodies.  And the elderly living  near these waste sitios.

While the Albur controversy hangs like a dirty linen- are the 17 sitios also  ready to comply with the efficient implementation of the Solid Waste Management Act?

Under the law, all LGUs are mandated to set up their own National Waste Management Commission and Solid Waste Management Board. Do the 17 all have these? They are supposed to come up with a 10-year waste management plan. Do they have this?

All barangays are supposed to provide sites with containers labeled as to “compostable”, “non recyclable”. “recyclable” or “special waste”.  

The law mandates  further that solid waste must  be reduced within a period of 5 years and 20% of those collected must be reused, recycled or  be recomposted.

Each must have a Barangay  Material Recovery Facility and the Department of Agriculture (DA) has an evolving list of markets for recomposted or recycled materials. Are the LGUs in touch with the DA?

It has been said -and acknowledged  by many risk analysts  and even by Pope Francis himself that one of the greatest battles of this century is fighting the pesky environmental hazards that imperil man’s life and well-being.

It is the horror of the risks mentioned above and the continuing damage we inflict on the only world we have that all the contending Albur Landfill must, therefore,  close ranks for the good of all.

The lives we save with a functioning landfill could be our own. 

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