Binay wants Manila Bay ‘white sand’ project shelved due to health risks
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Nancy Binay has called for the suspension of what she believes was a “hastily planned” Manila Bay “white sand” project due to health hazards that crushed dolomite can cause to people and the environment.
Binay said the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) should stop the laying of the crushed dolomite over the 500-meter stretch coastline of Manila Bay to beautify it especially as the Department of Health (DOH) said it can cause respiratory illness and other health problems.
“Yung paglalagay ng dolomite as a substitute for white sand only means na hindi dumaan sa tamang proseso at pag-aaral ang plano sa Manila Bay rehabilitation,” Binay said in a statement.
(Placing dolomite as a substitute for white sand only means the project did not go through proper processes and studies for the Manila Bay rehabilitation.)
“Walang public consultation, walang environmental clearance, hilaw ang EIA/EIS, at malinaw na bara-bara at ‘di comprehensive ang plano,” she added.
(There was no public consultation, no environmental clearance, and it was clear that the plan was not comprehensive and was done hastily.)
Binay also asked whether a feasibility study has been done to determine if the dolomite sand can do more harm than good.
“Mapa-government o DENR project man ‘yan, dapat may feasibility studies at science-based ang laman ng plano. Kung DENR project, ‘di sila exempted – the more na required ang environmental clearance at scientific studies. Kapag bara-bara, sayang ang science talaga,” the senator stressed.
(Whether it’s a government or DENR project, there should be a feasibility study that contains a science-based plan. If it is a DENR project, they are not exempted — the more they need to comply with environmental and scientific studies. It would be a waste of science if it is done hastily.)
Earlier, DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said that dolomite dust, which comes from crushed rocks, contains calcium magnesium carbonate which may irritate the eyes or cause discomfort to the gastrointestinal system if ingested and lead to stomach pains and diarrhea.
This is not the first time health professionals warned against the use of dolomite in beautifying Manila Bay. According to experts, dolomite can actually contain heavy metals like lead and mercury, which are both dangerous for humans.
Meanwhile, others pointed out that several American companies have conducted studies on dolomite, which noted that it may cause cancer. Another research says dolomite contains crystalline silica which is classified as a potential carcinogen or a substance that contributes to cancer.
Binay said that if DENR is looking after the welfare of the people, they should immediately stop dumping dolomite on Manila Bay’s shores because it may even worsen the ocean’s current polluted condition.
“In the right order of things, bago sana ang mga palamuti, dapat unahin muna ng DENR ang pagsasaayos ng water quality ng Manila Bay. Nakakalungkot lang, kaysa sa i-prioritize ayusin ang mga banyo sa Baseco, mas inuna pang pondohan ang puting buhangin galing Cebu,” she added.
(In the right order of things, DENR should have prioritized fixing the water quality of Manila Bay before the aesthetics. It is just saddening that instead of first addressing the sewage system in Baseco, it prioritized the funding of white sand from Cebu.)
Others also believe that the timing of the Manila Bay makeover is off, especially since the country is still dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as its impact on the economy.
Vice President Leni Robredo said Sunday that the P349-million budget for the white sand project could have been used to feed 80,000 poor families for at least a month.
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