70 FAMILIES HAVE TO GO
Risks of living in Inayawan dump: Fire, trash slide, storm surge, poor sanitation
Not just 20 families, but the rest of 70 families living in the Inayawan landfill have to be relocated from what Cebu city officials say is a danger zone.
“It’s really risky for residents there. The pile of garbage is really high. There is also the risk of methane buildup that can cause combustion especially with the summer heat,” said Councilor Dave Tumulak, head of the Cebu City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (CCDRRMC).
Fire outbreaks during hot weather sometimes happen in the mounds of garbage due to accumulated methane gas, although none were recently reported.
The disaster office is finishing site assessment for Inayawan barangay captain Lutherlee “Lotlot” Ignacio-Soon, who worried about the risk of a garbage “landslide” after some boulders were recently removed during earth-moving work at the South Road Properties where a seawall is being built.
Some of the trash piles reach 20 meters or the height of a three-floor house, said the disaster office.
But when Cebu Daily News visited the area, several long-time residents said they didn’t feel their lives were in danger at all.
One housewife, who’s lived there with her family since 1980, said she never experienced a “landslide” of trash and that nothing collapsed even during the strong October 2013 earthquake.
A Korean firm’s unsolicited proposal to develop the landfill as a P3.5 billion commercial mixed-use project at no cost to the city is being reviewed by a joint-venture selection team in City Hall.
With or without the investor’s plan, Jade Ponce, head of the Solid Waste Management Board (SWMB), said transferring the population was necessary.
“People should not live there. It’s inhuman for society to allow that to continue. It’s hazardous to health and poses danger to life and limb,” Ponce said.
Part of the landfill lies near the shoreline of Inayawan. A portion of the sea separates the landfill from the South Road Properties (SRP), where commercial locators have complained of the stench of garbage reaching their sites.
Statements calling for the transfer of garbage pickers and scavengers have been made off and on ever since the landfill, built in 1998, reached its full capacity after seven years, and was partly closed in 2005.
An entire community has grown up in the dumpsite, which was ordered completely shut last January 15 by the mayor as overdue compliance of environmental laws.
More than 70 families live there, said Hold Alcontin, head of the CCDRRMC’s research and planning division.
“We assessed the level of risk of the families there depending on their location. More than 20 houses have the highest risk of a landslide. But the rest are still exposed to health hazards and possible storm surges. The entire area is really risky,” Alcontin said.
A seawall being built there is still not enough against a possible storm surge, he said.
WILLING TO TRANSFER
Barangay captain Soon and several residents said they are willing to have all families transferred.
“If we get the council’s recommendation, we could relocate the families within one month. I am still following up the relocation site in sitio San Isidro Labrador,” Soon said.
A 2.1-hectare lot is being reviewed by the city legal office for possible purchase but competing ownership claims of two heirs has complicated it.
No other relocation site has been identified.
In 2009, fire outbreaks in the landfill lasted for one month with the smoke reaching other parts of Cebu city and Talisay.
The stench of garbage which reaches developing areas of the SRP has also been a complaint of locators like Filinvest Land Inc.
No specific studies have been made on methane levels but a theoretical analysis done in 2011 concluded that it was only five percent, said Randy Navarro, Cebu City Environment and Natural Resources Officer (CCENRO).
“The analysis was made in terms of area, period being used, volume of deposits, and waste characterization,” he said.
Seawater intruding in the landfill reduced the levels of methane there, he added.
The landfill extends two meters below the ground, where a plastic matting that used to line the area has already degraded over time.
Councilor Alvin Dizon, who heads the committee on housing, said socialized housing projects should be started immediately for the residents.
“The families near the dumpsite should be prioritized considering their precarious conditions,” he said.
He repeated his earlier lament made in a privilege speech that hundreds of urban families living in other danger zones have not been relocated even though the City Council allocated almost P500 million for this purpose since 2013.
Only 30 percent of the amount has been spent, he said.
“The people in the landfill have no option. They have nowhere else to go. They are susceptible to accidents. The city should not wait for an incident like what happened in Payatas,” he said.
In 2000, around 200 people died in a garbage landslide in the Payatas landfill in Manila.
Since it’s summer Dizon said City Hall should start relocating families also within three meter easement of rivers and waterways before the rainy reason starts and brings with it flashfloods.
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