EMB probes dumping of rotten rice in La Union
DAGUPAN CITY—The Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) has started investigating reports about the dumping of thousands of bags of rotten rice in a village in Balaoan town in La Union province due to its possible impact on the local environment.
In a telephone interview, Joel Salvador, EMB Ilocos director, said he had directed his staff to find out if the dumping violated Republic Act No. 9003 (Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000).
“It’s definitely solid commercial waste. It’s organic but not a hazardous substance. Let’s see,” Salvador said.
On Thursday last week, workers began dumping some of the 19,000 bags of rotten rice in Barangay Paraoir in Balaoan after officials of the National Food Authority (NFA) declared these to be unfit for human consumption.
The sacks of rotten rice were part of the 100,000 bags that the NFA had imported in December last year from Vietnam.
But the cargo ship MV Binh Hoa, which was carrying the rice shipment, ran aground before it could dock at Poro Point in San Fernando City, soaking 49,000 bags of rice in seawater that seeped into the vessel.
Carlito Co, NFA regional director, said a resident of Balaoan offered his lot as a dump site for the rotten rice because he wanted to turn it into compost, an organic fertilizer.
Co said his office helped the rice supplier find a dumping ground.
“We actually talked to the different local governments in La Union, but it was either their sites were too small or their fees were exorbitant,” he said.
He said the dump in Balaoan was far from the village’s populated areas and was located in the town’s mountainous section.
The dumping, he said, was suspended after workers complained that they could no longer take the odor of the decomposing rice.
“We decided to use a fork lift so that fewer people will be involved. But it will still take a week to finish the dumping,” Co said.
He said the sacks of rotten rice were not owned by the NFA because these had not been turned over to the agency. The NFA, he added, paid only for the unspoiled stocks. Gabriel Cardinoza, Inquirer Northern Luzon
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