DENR suspends PhilEco’s garbage transfer facility in Tondo

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has suspended the operations of a garbage transfer station in Tondo, Manila for allowing the discharge of leachate into the Manila Bay.

DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu said the suspension order against Philippine Ecology Systems Corp. (PhilEco) came after the Environmental Management Bureau - National Capital Region (EMB-NCR) found the firm liable for violating certain conditionalities of the Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) issued to the firm for its operation of the Vitas Marine Loading Station (VMLS) at Pier 18 in Manila.

“The PhilEco incident is just one of the many battles the DENR must squarely address in winning the campaign for Manila Bay under the mantle of the continuing mandamus order of the Supreme Court,” Cimatu said.

He added: “It is high time that we strictly enforce the law on solid waste management no matter who gets hurt, otherwise we will continue to live in an unhealthy environment to the detriment of public health.”

Cimatu himself personally inspected VLMS on Sept. 27, two days after the EMB-NCR came out with Notice of Adverse Findings (NAF) against the facility based on an routine ECC-compliance inspection conducted by the EMB-NCR on August 9, 2017.

Last October 3, PhilEco officers appeared in a technical conference called by the EMB-NCR to give the firm the chance to explain and contest the violations cited in the NAF and pledged to undertake further corrective measures on top of those which they immediately undertook following the discovery of their violations.

Cimatu said the suspension will remain in effect until PhilEco is able to carry out all its commitment to address the problem and prevent a similar situation from happening in the future.

The environment chief stressed that it is only appropriate that PhilEco “face up to the full consequences of their violations,” despite the immediate measures it embarked on.

During the technical conference, PhilEco executives revealed the company had already backfilled its ponding area, and installed liners, drainage pipes and runoff storage tanks at the transfer facility and had already started the water cleanup using two newly purchased trash-collecting boats.

PhilEco officials promised that within 60 days, they will rehabilitate the facility’s 100-meter seawall, install containment area for waste materials delayed for transfer during inclement weather and install litter fences around the facility.

Cimatu said the DENR will strictly monitor PhilEco’s compliance with its commitment and ECC conditions.

PhilEco’s VMLS functions as a transfer facility for wastes collected in Metro Manila.. The waste materials are transported by barge to the 40-hectare Navotas Sanitary Landfill, which is also operated by PhilEco.

Meanwhile, EMB-NCR Director Vizminda Osorio has imposed a fine of P150,000 to PhilEco for violating certain provisions of its ECC. These include the firm’s failure to meet the effluent standards for phosphate and total suspended solids as it was discharging untreated wastewater directly into the bay; for holding the collected waste materials at the Vitas transfer station beyond the mandatory 24-hour limit as per DENR Department Administrative Order 2001-34; and for allowing solid wastes in the shoreline as a result of its poor housekeeping practices.
The environment chief said the DENR will do the same with other operators of solid waste transfer stations and sanitary landfills across the country.

“We will make sure these operators will comply with pertinent policies and regulations on solid waste management,” Cimatu said.

Last August, the DENR ordered the permanent closure of the Payatas sanitary landfill in Quezon City due to numerous environmental violations and susceptibility to trash slide. ###