Geothermal work, operations stopped

DOLE, DOE issue orders after deadly landslide in EDC complex in Leyte

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TACLOBAN CITY—The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) in Eastern Visayas and the Department of Energy (DOE) have ordered an indefinite stop to work on the site of a landslide in Energy Development Corp.’s (EDC) geothermal complex in Kananga, Leyte.

In the order, the regional DOLE also directed  EDC and its contractors, First Balfour and JE Arradaza, to submit documents about compliance with labor laws and safety standards that would be used in the investigation being conducted by the DOLE.

Cyril Ticao, regional labor director, said the documents that the DOLE wanted the companies to submit included copies of payroll and contributions to the Social Security System and Philippine Health Insurance Corp.

“We want to know if the workers are being paid accordingly and if there is a construction safety and health program [for the workers],” Ticao said.

Ticao met with EDC officials and EDC contractors First Balfour and JE Arradaza at the DOLE regional office here on Friday in the course of a DOLE investigation of a landslide that killed 14 workers and wounded 21 others at the EDC’s Pad 403 in Kananga.

The victims are among the 45 workers of JE Arradaza, subcontractor of First Balfour, EDC’s main contractor. They were building a concrete structure to protect steam pipes from falling rocks and debris when the landslide occurred shortly before 10 a.m. on March 1.

On March 5, the regional DOLE ordered EDC to stop the construction of the concrete shelters pending results of the investigation.

Ticao said EDC was also ordered to clear the landslide area of debris before work is allowed to resume on the concrete shelters.

Ticao quoted EDC representatives as saying clearing operations are likely to last for a week because the landslide loosened at least 20,000 cubic meters of debris.

“There is still imminent danger in the area,” Ticao said.

Ticao quoted officials of EDC and its contractors as saying they would comply with the DOLE order “as soon as possible.”

In a March 4 order, the  DOE suspended operations in Pad 403 in accordance with the Renewable Energy Safety, Health and Environment Rules and Regulations.

The order was signed by Mario Marasigan, DOE renewable energy management bureau director. It also required EDC to submit a written report on the accident, the first in EDC’s Leyte geothermal production field.

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