By: Jose Santino S. Bunachita, Michelle Joy L. Padayhag September 02,2016 - 11:54 PM

Garbage trucks wait for their turn to dump their garbage at the Inayawan landfill in Cebu City in this July 2016 photo (CDN FILE PHOTO)

Garbage trucks wait for their turn to dump their garbage at the Inayawan landfill in Cebu City in this July 2016 photo (CDN FILE PHOTO)

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Environmental Management Bureau (EMB-7) has issued a notice of violation against the City of Cebu for its failure to comply with several standards set by the bureau in the operation of its 15-hectare landfill in Barangay Inayawan.

Following weeks of unbearable stench from the dump site, EMB-7 investigators found that the city had violated 13 conditions of DENR’s Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) issued in April 1998 for its sanitary landfill.

If the terms and conditions of the ECC remain unmet by the city, EMB-7 director Engr. William Cuñado threatened to close the dump site.

The notice, addressed to Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña, was served yesterday through City Hall representatives led by former Cebu City councilor turned City Environmental consultant Nida Cabrera during a technical conference at EMB-7 office in Banilad, Cebu City.

The city’s violations represent more than 25 percent of 41 conditions set by DENR in allowing the landfill to operate in Inayawan.

In his letter to Osmeña, EMB-7 director Cuñado advised the mayor to explain in writing his failure to comply with the terms set for the issuance of the ECC and present this during a technical conference later this month.

“You are hereby advised to make a written explanation why you failed to comply with the conditions and present it during the technical conference on September 16, 2016 at 2 p.m. to this Office,” Cuñado said in his notice adding that the mayor may send an authorized representative with a Special Power of Attorney (SPA).

The SPA must signify “his/her capacity to commit and sign whatever decision/agreement, particularly on the penalty to be imposed for the committed violations,” Cuñado added in his letter to Osmeña.

Earlier last August 18, EMB-7 field personnel were sent to Inayawan to monitor the dumpsite amid rising complaints from residents and businesses in surrounding areas about the very strong odor coming from the mountains of seemingly endless garbage.

ECC Violations

Based on the team’s Compliance Evaluation Report, it was found that the city violated 13 conditions of the ECC including its failure to secure a discharge permit to check if the effluents (liquid waste or sewage) conform with the standards set by the EMB.

EMB also noted that the city failed to implement strict measures on the disposal of hazardous or hospital waste in the area and further failed to provide cover for all the garbage trucks to prevent litter from being blown away.

There was also no soil covering for each waste after spreading, compacting and the spraying of insecticide as numerous flies were hovering in the area, read the EMB-7 report.

“This is among the main reasons for the foul odor. There was no soil cover on the waste,” Cuñado told Cebu Daily News in an interview.

The city also failed to efficiently operate the leachate plant and landfill glass flaring system, as well as conduct a weekly monitoring of chemical and biological parameters, according to the EMB report.

Other violations cited by EMB-7 were the city’s failure to strictly prohibit the scavenging of waste materials inside the site, strictly enforce personal protective equipment for workers and sustain a good perimeter fence to prevent illegal entry of squatters in the area.

EMB-7 also noted the city’s failure to provide an Environmental Guarantee Fund (EGF) to cover expenses for the monitoring and immediate rehabilitation or identification of damage and other related concerns related to the dumpsite’s operation.

There was also no operation manual presented by the city while it also failed to show reports or records of monitoring for biological and chemical parameters to EMB-7 investigators.

Finally, the EMB cited that there were “air and water verbal complaints” against the dumpsite which would be a sufficient cause for suspension or revocation of the ECC.

“We will ask them to comply with the conditions. If they failed then we will issue closure order of the site,” said Cuñado.

According to Presidential Decree 1586, violations of ECC conditions may be punished by the suspension or cancellation of the certificate and a fine of not more than P50 thousand for every violation which shall be at the discretion of the EMB.

Cebu City’s commitments

During the meeting at EMB-7 yesterday, the city’s representatives signed an undertaking to immediately minimize the stench at the dumpsite by covering the garbage daily with soil starting today. They also promised to purchase odor-eliminating enzymes on or before September 7.

“The acceptance of biodegradable waste shall be minimized and an established final treatment facility for biodegradable waste shall be in place on or before November 2016,” read the commitment signed by Cabrera, Department of Public Services (DPS) head Roberto Cabarrubias and fellow DPS representatives Engr. Danilo Gabiona and Dr. Oscar Abordo before the EMB.

Hazardous and toxic wastes from hospitals and other establishments will no longer be disposed within the facility; and there will be adequate cover provided in all trucks, according to the commitment.

To prevent litter from flying around, a moveable fence shall also be placed near the landfill working area; while protective equipment for workers will be provided at all times.

The group also promised to provide a list of “informal waste pickers” to EMB as the scavengers will be forming an organization this week.

The operational manual for the sanitary landfill will also be submitted on Monday and a discharge permit applied for next week, according to the city’s signed commitment. While on or before October 31, a program of work for tree planting activities will be given to EMB by the city.

By December 30, Cabrera and company promised to rehabilitate the leachate treatment plant; and by the first quarter of 2017, build a parameter fence to ward off unauthorized persons from the site.

According to the city’s pledge, an environmental guarantee fund will be put up as soon as the Cebu City Council approves a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA). The fund will be used for monitoring, identification and the immediate rehabilitation of damages at the dumpsite.


Meanwhile, barangay officials of Inayawan want a clear dialogue with the different stakeholders on the reopening of the landfill.

Inayawan barangay captain Lutherlee “Lotlot” Ignacio-Soon, lamented that they were never consulted by the city government when Osmeña decided to reopen the landfill last June to stop expenditures on a private landfill in Consolacion town where the city’s wastes were dumped since January last year.

“ We just knew through the media that it has started operating again. Even just for courtesy, there was none,” she said.

In an emergency session last week, Inayawan officials passed a resolution calling for a public hearing on the reopening of the landfill.

Soon said they will invite representatives from the mayor’s office, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), City Health Department (CHD), Inayawan residents and officials from neighboring barangays.

“There are even a lot of petitions from residents already. They want it closed again,” she said adding that aside from the petitions, she also received calls from people complaining about the foul smell coming from the landfill.

For his part, Vice Mayor Edgardo Labella urged Osmeña to again consider closing the landfill again and look for alternative sites.

Grabe na kaayo ang reklamo sa katawhan, mga restaurants, business establishments, bisan gani ang magsakay ug barko usahay maabot na ang baho gikan sa landfill (There are already a lot of complaints from people, restaurants, business establishments, even passengers of boats saying that the smell would sometimes reach them),” he said in a press conference yesterday.

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TAGS: DENR, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, ECC, EMB, EMB-7, Environment Management Bureau, Environmental Compliance Certificate, Inayawan, Inayawan landfill, landfill, Nida Cabrera, South Road Properties, SRP

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