Environmental emergency seen in Clark as EMB warned CWC on non-renewal of permit

Clark Investors and Locators Association (CILA) has feared on a possible environmental emergency in the Clark Freeport Zone with the Environmental Management Bureau’s(EMB) warning to Clark Water Corporation(CWC) their Temporary Discharge Permit (TDP) may not be renewed when it expires on October 30,2021.

With the impending non-renewal of the TDP, the wastewater treatment plant in Clark will have to close.

In their letter dated, October 25, 2021, addressed to CWC and copy furnished Clark Development Corporation (CDC) and CILA, EMB’s Wilson Trajeco stated the TDP will only be renewed if CWC continues working on their current project site to meet effluent standards.

If the TDP is not renewed, a Cease and Desist order will be issued effectively stopping the CWC’s Wastewater Treatment Plant and each Clark locator will be responsible for their wastewater disposal. Each locator has to dispose of their wastewater in accordance with the General Effluent Standards or face penalties.

No locator in Clark is capable of managing its own wastewater thus they will all have to stop operations as well if this issue does not get resolved before the October 30 deadline. 

CDC, CILA and CWC held an emergency meeting October 28 to discuss this looming problem and come up with a plan of action for different eventualities. In the meeting, CWC assured CILA and CDC they will meet the building permit requirements of CDC and secure an extension of the TDP to prevent this emergency from happening.

CWC General Manager Christina Cruz has vowed to do everything they can to meet the extension requirements of EMB.

CDC President and CEO Manuel Gaerlan said they will appeal to other government agencies connected to EMB to make sure the locators will not face this challenge of no wastewater treatment in Clark.

CILA Chairman Ireneo “Bong” Alvaro urged the EMB to “resolve the matter expeditiously and thanked CDC for supporting the stand of the locators for affordable and clean water.” “We are wondering why EMB is so concerned about CWC’s completion of the new WWTP when a proof of compliance from CWC should be enough. Why is EMB so concerned about the building permit to be issued by CDC?  This is already an encroachment of CDC function.”

CILA President Jeannie Del Rosario Ng said EMB’s letter to CWC has caused undue anxiety among the biggest investors in the Clark Freeport with their threat of the WWTP closure. 

This is the second time this year the EMB has threatened to issue a Cease and Desist Order(CDO) to CWC.

The constant threat does not help in boosting investor confidence and help in maintaining a business-friendly regulatory environment in the zone, according to investors. 

They asked: “If CWC says they have passed the water sampling of discharged water done by EMB, why are they being threatened with another CDO and non renewal of discharge permit?  Shouldn’t the discharge permit be based on passing the discharge or effluent standards only and not on any building plan?”

“During these times of unprecedented challenges brought about by this pandemic, shouldn’t government agencies be helping ease these challenges instead of adding more roadblocks and threats?,” according to the Clark locators.