Despite its official closure in December last year, solid waste is still piling up in Cebu City's Inayawan Sanitary Landfill.
Landfill operations manager Randy Navarro confirmed during yesterday’s City Council session that 60 percent of the 325 tons (average) daily solid waste collected by the city still end up in the landfill.
The remaining 40 percent are transferred to the private landfill in Consolacion town.
Asked by committee on environment chairperson Nida Cabrera if a closure plan has been formulated for the landfill facility after it was declared closed, Navarro said none was made so far.
When queried further, Navarro said: "Siguro the Solid Waste Management Board did not go into the closure plan kay naay (waste to energy) activity nga gi paabot sa landfill," (Maybe the Solid Waste Management Board did not formulate the closure plan because they are expecting the waste-to-energy project to be implemented in the landfill),” he said.
The ineffective closure of the city's landfill was affirmed by the Environment Management Bureau 7 (EMB-7) in a report dated August 31 this year.
According to EMB-7 regional director Fernando Quililan, the transhipment of garbage collected by the city through the Inayawan facility is ineffective.
Quililan also underscored the need to get rid of junkshops or "mini dumpsites" operating along the Inayawan White Road leading to the landfill area in compliance with Republic Act 9003 or the Solid Waste Management Act.
"The Sanitary Landfill Facility (SLF) is already overflowing, allowing tons of mixed wastes to be deposited (in) unlined portion of the facility allowing the direct disposal of leachate to sea and finally mini dumpsites exist near the SLF,” Quililan said in a report dated August 31.
He added the uncontrolled activities of the junkshops in the area and the dumping of mixed solid wastes pose serious environmental threats such as air pollution.
Navarro admitted that junkshop operators, one of whom is Inayawan barangay captain Rustom Ignacio, leave their junk along the road blocking at least half of the passageway.
Navarro said they needed heavy equipments to get rid of the junk and clear the White Road of obstruction.
DENR through the Regional Solid Waste Coordinator of the EMB conducted an inspection of the landfill and its adjoining areas to determine compliance with RA 9003 last Aug. 23.
Quililan’s report, a copy of which was furnished to Young, however said the city already complied with environment directives to cease its landfill operations.
But the city still has to implement post closure care within the next 15 years "to guarantee complete closure and rehabilitation of the SLF and its immediate surrounding."
Navarro told the City Council yesterday that the15-hectare landfill now has about two million cubic meters of garbage.
He said a portion of the landfill measuring about 180 square meters is being used as transfer station for garbage coming from the barangays.
These are later loaded on leased garbage trucks for transfer to the Consolacion landfill facility, Navarro said.
Councilor Sisinio Andales voiced concern over the continuous dumping of garbage at the landfill even after Mayor Michael Rama issued a cessation order in December 2010.
Cabrera also sought clarification on Navarro's admission that more than half of the daily garbage volume remains at the landfill.
Atty. Jade Ponce, head of the Solid Waste Management Board, earlier said in media interviews that landfill operations already stopped following the issuance of the cessation order.
Navarro told the council that they are merely "storing" the SLF garbage that can no longer be delivered to Consolacion town.
Garbage trucks and heavy equipment which the city government leased from Armed Builders and Supply starting on January 2012 are incapable of transporting the city's daily garbage volume to Consolacion town because their vehicles would always bog down.
The city government allocated P24 million for the one-year lease of 17 vehicles which consist of 15 garbage trucks, one backhoe and one pay loader.
The city is paying a rate of P3,998.37 per truck per day for each of the leased vehicle.
Each of the 15 garbage trucks are required to transport seven tons of garbage per trip and make three trips daily.
The Cebu City's landfill is located at least 13 kilometers from the Consolacion landfill facility.
"If their truck bogs down, City Hall still pays for its daily rental even if it just hauls garbage once,” Navarro said.
He cited as an example the month of March where only 13 of the 17 leased trucks where running.
The 13 running trucks - 11 garbage trucks, one backhoe and one payloader - only transported to Consolacion town 4,557 tons of the 10,808 tons of garbage collected for the whole month.
The remaining 6, 333 tons of garbage which is 59.11 percent of the month's collection remained "stored" in the Inayawan facility.
Wanting to correct the deficiency, Navarro said he already raised his concerns on the leased vehicles to the attention of Mayor Rama as early as March 2012.
In his March 26 letter to Rama, Navarro even recommended that rental of the garbage trucks and heavy equipment should be made on a per trip basis to save City Hall funds.
Councilor Alvin Dizon said the City Council should pass a resolution in support of Navarro's request. /Doris C. Bongcac, Chief of Reporters