Capas waste facility closure may trigger ‘colossal health consequences’: DOH-CL

The Department of Health in Region III is set to investigate the “forced shutdown” of the Metro Clark Waste Management Corporation (MCWMC) in Capas, Tarlac that it said “would lead to colossal health consequenses.”

In a memorandum sent to Director IV Corazon L. Flores, of the Center for Health Development for Central Luzon, Director IV Gerna M. Manatad, of the Disease Prevention and Control Bureau, urged the conduct of an investigation “to determine additional facts and recommendations on the best course of action to be taken by the DOH on the said matter.”

Some 12 million residents of Central Luzon, and Northern Luzon, are expected to bear the brunt of the impending closure of the 100-hectare Kalangitan Sanitary Landfill, in Capas, Tarlac which is serving 150 local government units (LGUs) and more than a thousand industrial clients in Central Luzon, Pangasinan, and the Cordilleras including the Summer Capital of Baguio City.

The letter said the “forced shutdown of the MCWMC in Kalangitan, Capas, Tarlac, could lead to a evere waste management crisis that will affect 12 million (people) in Central and Northern Luzon and would lead to colossal health consequences.”

Manatad has urged Flores to initiate investigation into the impending colosure of the Capas waste facility. The Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) and the Clark Development Corporation (CDC) already told MCWMC that there will be no renewal of contract in October.

The MCWMC has already filed a case against CDC in the Angeles Trial Court in a bid to seek a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) and said it will continue serving its clients beyond the expiration of the contract.

Hospital waste treaters who process some 400 tons of hospital medical wastes each month have expressed fears patients of some 1,000 hospitals all over the country including small clinics including their workers will be exposed to health hazards.

Danny Abadilla, president of Clark Sanitation Services, said they would stop the treatment of hospital wastes if the BCDA and CDC push with their plan to shut down the Kalangitan Sanitary Landfill, in Capas, Tarlac. Abadilla said these hospital wastes consisting of hypodermic needles body fluids, body parts, pharmaceuticals, radioactive materials, and cytotoxic drugs are generated by health care establishments, health-related laboratories, and health research facilities.

Abadilla said most of these hospital wastes that are coming from Metro Manila, Cavite, Laguna, and as far as Palawan, are treated in their recovery facility before being taken to the Kalangitan Sanitary Landfill which is the only waste facility accredited by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). The Kalangitan Sanitary Landfill is the “only sanitary landfill accredited by DENR to accept medical wastes,” according to Abadilla.

Should BCDA and CDC close the Capas waste facility in October 5, it will prompt them to also stop collecting medical wastes and this is expected to affect the health of patients and hospital workers in the frontline, and the community, said Abadilla. “Apektado ang pasyente, apektado ang mga personnel sa mga hospitals, at apektado ang mga communities.”

Christopher Tang, Director for Business Development of SafeWaste Inc. has echoed the view of Abadilla saying uncollected medical wastes may affect the health of CL and NL residents.

Tang said their treatment facility located near Kalangitan at Cutcut, Capas 2, process some 30 tons of medical wastes per week from some 120 hospitals in Region 2 and CAR.

Tang feared the severe environmental crisis that the closure of the waste facility will cause. SafeWaste employs some 30 workers in the treatment facility in Capas. SafeWaste Inc General Manager Al Kane said the Metro Clark Waste Management Corporation is a “national treasure” and should be kept running. The MCWMC said some one million tons of wastes are being brought to the waste facility for processing each year.

All treatment facilities engage in the collection, transportation, treatment, and disposal of medical wastes. Treatment of hospital wastes includes the use of pressurized steam in the microbial inactivation of pathogens found in infectious wastes. After treatment, medical wastes are taken to the Kalangitan Sanitary Landfill for final disposal.

The LGUs expressed fears the sanitary landfill in Porac and Floridablanca, both in Pampanga province, are not ready to dispose residual wastes and medical wastes.

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