Bioethanol plant probed over waste in farms
SAN MARIANO, Isabela—A bioethanol manufacturer is being investigated on a charge that it has been dumping organic waste in farms in Isabela province.
Board Member Jonathan Calderon on Saturday said the provincial board had undertaken the investigation after it received complaints from the towns of San Mariano, Benito Soliven, Gamu, Burgos and Naguilian about liquid waste being dumped in the towns allegedly by Green Future Innovations Inc. (GFII).
Greg Garcia, GFII corporate affairs manager and administrative officer, said the firm had punished some of its drivers, who had been caught dumping waste.
But he said the company continued to follow environmental laws.
“As far as GFII is concerned, we penalized the drivers either by suspension or a more severe [punishment] if there is a repeated offense [concerning unauthorized waste dumping],” he said.
He did not give details of instances when company truckers defied orders not to dump wastes indiscriminately.
Garcia said the company had drawn up plans to lease farms, which would receive bioethanol plant waste to be converted into organic liquid fertilizer, instead of transporting the waste to private farms.
According to him, this was a better way to dispose of the sugarcane waste.
The company has a discharge permit that will last until January 2015.
The permit, issued by the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB), allows GFII to release effluents into bodies of water that were specified in the permit provided that their content and quality “shall not exceed standard limits.”
San Mariano Vice Mayor Edgar Go said the local government believed GFII failed to supervise its truckers, “who disposed of the effluents at night and had turned some farms into ‘virtual ashtrays.’”
Even roads have been used at times by drivers as dumping sites, leaving a noxious odor, he said.
“We also received complaints from some villages that aside from the bad odor, the waste reached rivers especially those near the bioethanol plant,” Calderon said.
Organic liquid fertilizer composed of sugarcane juice could be too rich for marine life, should it be dumped in rivers, and may kill fish, he said.
Go acknowledged that the bioethanol company has no record yet of breaking environmental laws, but the local government is supporting calls for an interagency onsite inspection to verify the complaints.
“We would be issuing a cease-and-desist order if they are found guilty of violating environmental laws. Meantime, let us wait and see,” said Elmer Cuanan, the community environment and natural resources officer who supervises the Isabela district that hosts the GFII plant. Villamor Visaya Jr., Inquirer Northern Luzon
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