Biñan steel factory shut down after explosions


SAN PEDRO, Laguna—The city government of Biñan, Laguna, has padlocked a multinational steel manufacturing company, pending results of an investigation into an explosion that triggered complaints from residents near the firm’s factory.

City officials on Monday padlocked one of the main gates of Sagarthama Steel Trading Corp. in Barangay Tubigan.

This is the second time authorities visited the premises since the provincial environment and natural resources office (Penro) in Laguna issued a cease and desist order on July 8.

On July 23, city officials served a notice of temporary closure but residents a week later reported that the company continued to operate especially at night.

Sagarthama counsel, lawyer Ricardo Diokno Jr., denied violating the closure order. He said the company was running some “tests” in compliance with Penro’s directive to implement “mitigating and corrective measures” in their operations.

The closure order issued by Penro and Biñan City Mayor Marlyn Alonte followed a July 6 incident when one of the company’s machines malfunctioned, causing a large explosion that ripped off part of the building’s roof. The blast was followed by a fire that lasted for about two hours.

Days after the blast, Alonte also ordered the revocation of the company’s business permit.

“It was so strong we felt the shock waves,” said Concepcion Reyes, in a phone interview. Reyes, president of Filinvest South Residents’ Association Inc., lives about 100 meters from the company. The blast, she said, was felt in nine other subdivisions.

“This was not the first but by far the worst,” said Nancy Amador, whose two children and their families live in Filinvest South.

Filinvest South is classified by the city government as a “Class A” subdivision of 400 households. It is near the company and is separated only by a wall from the steel mill.

Explosions, of smaller magnitude, happened on May 27, 2009 and on Jan. 5 last year, also inside the company.

Reyes said residents have been complaining.

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