DENR lifts cease order on Baguio garbage operations
BAGUIO CITY –– A temporary order suspending waste processing operations at Baguio’s decommissioned dump was lifted on Monday (July 1), after the new mayor promised to convert the city’s mountain of trash into an ecological park by yearend.
Mayor Benjamin Magalong started his first day in office dealing with uncollected trash after garbage trucks stopped collecting organic waste due to the July 27 shutdown of Baguio’s two waste-to-fertilizer machines.
The DENR cease order said the city government had violated the terms of a 2012 writ of kalikasan, which ordered the permanent closure and rehabilitation of its only dump.
The Baguio general services office had informed residents that they must not bring out their biodegradable trash because of the DENR order, but trash still lined up inner city streets, as well as sections of the city market, on Monday morning.
The June 1 order issued by Ralph Pablo, DENR Cordillera director, however, allows the city to resume its solid waste operations provided the Baguio government processes all organic rubbish stored at the dump and hauls out unprocessed compost.
The two machines turn 48 tons of organic waste into powdered fertilizer each day using a Japanese environmental recycling system.
But experts from Adamson University and the Department of Science and Technology learned that broken pipes have been expelling sludge because its cooling system had malfunctioned, Magalong said.
Pablo’s order also cited a city commitment made to the Court of Appeals in April that the former dump would be turned into a park by Dec. 31.
Residents of Barangay Irisan first shut down the dump in 2009, arguing that it had exceeded its capacity.
In 2011, the unstable rubbish heap toppled into houses lying below due to rains dumped by Typhoon “Mina.”
The trash slide killed five people, including a pregnant woman.
The Writ of Kalikasan was granted a year later. A consent decree approved by the court directs the Baguio government to turn the dump into an “environmentally friendly eco-park,” Pablo says in the order.
In an April 24 progress report to the Court of Appeals, the city government said it had allocated P10 million to rehabilitate the dump, which remains unstable due to loose soil.
According to a city estimate, the mountain of trash is composed of 480,000 to 500,000 cubic meters of biodegradable and plastic waste. It would take 10,822.51 truckloads of garbage to haul out the dump.
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