Councilor wary of waste-to-energy project; ‘This needs careful study’By Tweeny M. Malinao
Cebu Daily News
Cebu City Councilor Nida Cabrera said she is not ready to endorse the $102 million waste-to-energy project proposed by Greenergy Solutions Inc. because she has doubts about the gasification technology to be used.
“Waste-to-energy projects are considered one of the biggest producers of harmful pollutants if not properly handled,” Cabrera said.
City Council approval is needed to start the project, which would be financed by British investor Aidan Stretch of Sinova Holdings with Boustead Engineering Limited, a Singaporean-based company.
Cabrera said she will visit Pampanga to check a similar project run by another company where Ruth Briones, president of Greenergy Solutions Inc. (GSI) was previously connected.
“I cannot gamble the life of individuals and communities by haphazardly endorsing the GSI project without careful study, even in the light of pressures by some parties,” said Cabrera in a press statement.
Under GSI’s proposal, it would convert 1,150 tons of waste per day at the Inayawan landfill to generate 24 megawatts of power that can be sold later to the National Power Corp. at P7 per kilowatt hour.
It said it would use “gasification” to convert solid waste into carbon monoxide and hydrogen by reacting the raw material, such as house waste, or compost at high temperatures with a controlled amount of oxygen and steam.
One key issue to clarify is whether this is another form of incineration, which is banned under the Philipine Clean Air Act.
Laweyr Janeses Ponce, chairman of the Solid Waste Management Board (SWMB) denied that he and GSI are “in a hurry to have it approved by the City Council.”
“For the record, wala sila gidalidali. To let the GSI start their presentation is what we are rushing in,” said Ponce who is also a City Hall consultant on health, environment and waste management, and labor and employment issues.
Ponce said he would just like the council “to allow GSI the chance to be heard.. We want to see the progress.”
Ponce said that some details that Cabrera needed such as a pre-feasibility study can be presented during the council’s session, had the council allowed them earlier to do so.
Meanwhile, Cabrera said the City Council deliberated on the GSI proposal last August 8, after it was endorsed to them on July 30.
She said the SWMB recommended to Mayor Michael Rama to approve the proposal last June 13.
“For someone who is in a hurry to have it approved by the City Council, Mr. Ponce may do better in explaining the one-and-a-half month lag in endorsing the same to our office. Why begrudge the council for not yet acting on it when the matter is only within our domain for less than a month?” Cabrera asked.
Dr. Bernardo Tadeo, president/CEO of GSI urged the councilor to act on their proposal saying this was approved under the United Nations’ Clean Development Mechanism.
According to the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA), many waste-to-energy plants that use processes like gasification, pyrolysis and plasma arc are technically incinerators.
“All of these technologies emit dioxins and other harmful pollutants into the air, soil and water,” said GAIA’s article entitled “Incinerators in Disguise” published in www.no-burn.org.
The Philippine Clean Air Act (RA 8749) prohibits incineration in the country. It defines incineration as “burning of municipal, bio-medical and hazardous wastes, which process emits poisonous and toxic fumes.”/with BenCyrus G. Ellorin