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Closure of Payatas ordered

A backhoe arranges garbage dumped in Payatas, a landfill that became infamous for a landslide in 2000 that killed more than 200 people. —INQUIRER PHOTO

The Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) has ordered the closure of the Payatas landfill in Quezon City to pave the way for the review of the environmental clearance certificate (ECC) of the landfill operator, IPM Environmental Services Inc.

Jacqueline Caancan, acting director of the EMB, a bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), said the closure order issued by Vizminda Osorio, EMB-National Capital Region (NCR) director, was for IPM to refrain from operating the landfill “while we review” the company’s ECC.

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The order was issued by the EMB-NCR office on Aug. 2 to prevent accidents, like “trashslides,” and injuries due to  “inclement weather.”

Caancan, in a phone interview, said a team from the EMB, IPM and the Quezon City government checked the dump on Aug. 4 to gather water samples, among other things.

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Tomorrow, Aug. 7, the EMB would collect samples again.

Caancan said that while there was no timeline for the closure yet, the EMB review of IPM’s ECC would be finished “as soon as possible.”

She said her instruction to Osorio “was to talk to the local government” of Quezon City for alternative dump sites.

In January, former Environment Secretary Gina Lopez expressed intention to prohibit garbage dumps near bodies of water or reservoirs, citing the Payatas landfill, which was near  La Mesa watershed, as an example.

The Quezon City government said it was preparing for the permanent closure of the Payatas landfill by the end of the year after it was reportedly nearing its capacity limit.

According to Aldrin Cuña, city administrator, the dump takes in at least 2,800 tons of garbage per day.

“We are preparing for its closure this year but the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) has to decide where we will dump our waste,” he said in a statement, noting that no area had been designated as a dump for the city’s wastes.

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Unsafe

At least 200 trucks haul garbage from 142 villages in Quezon City to Payatas. Despite unsanitary and unsafe conditions, communities thrive around the dump, where many work as scavengers or in junk and recycling shops.

After heavy rains caused by Typhoon “Gorio” last week, the MMDA ordered the temporary suspension of Payatas operations.

During the closure of Payatas, wastes had been diverted to sanitary landfills in Vitas in Tondo, Manila, and to Rodriguez in Rizal province.

Once operations in Payatas resumed, the Quezon City government said it would allow only garbage trucks contracted by villages and independent haulers to dump waste in the landfill.

In 2000, a landslide at the Payatas landfill killed over 200 people.

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TAGS: DENR, ECC, EMB, environmental management bureau, IPM Environmental Services Inc., Jacqueline Caancan, Payatas landfill
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