Environmental Protection

On a listless Friday afternoon, two Pampanga-based scribes went all the way to San Simon, Pampanga, in a bid to probe the reported operations of two firms located in one of the sleepy industrial hubs along Quezon Road, where factories had call it home due to its proximity to Metro Manila and the rest of Central Luzon and Northern Luzon via the North Luzon Expressway and beyond.

Not that Pampanga province does not want precious investments but the two firms are apparently involved in lead smelting operations that allegedly affect the river system in San Simon which inadvertently resulted to fish kills.

The chemical effluent consisting of lead was reportedly released in the river system without proper treatment. This is the contention of Jess Lim Arranza, president of the Federation of Philippine Industries, Inc., who is calling for an ocular inspection of two illegal lead smelting operations in San Simon.
Dela Paz Barangay Chairman Ramilo Mangay, led an ocular inspection along the river bank after residents had complained about the discharge of white toxic materials into the river system. Mangay has revealed that fish kills are a common occurrence down the river system, where foul smell also emanates from the warehouses believed to be conducting the smelting operations and the unregulated release of toxic chemical wastes.

Sadly, Mangay has attended a seminar when the scribes reached the one-room Dela Paz Barangay Hall which was incorporated in the Dela Paz Covered Court. The bucolic barangay was the first to air the apparent environmental degradation affecting their area particularly the river system, where shenanigans can be released at the expense of the environment, marine life, and more importantly, the people along the river’s path. But the overtures appear in the form of white discharge along the river banks.

For the first time visitor to San Simon, Pampanga, the sights of industrial hubs will be immediately seen along the Quezon Road – San Simon Industrial Park, Globe Asiana Business Park 1, and Globe Asiana Business Park 2. The principal industries in San Simon are mainly farming, fishing and poultry and swine productions.

Arranza, an environmentalist, said he had already brought the pollution issue to the attention of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. in August last year. In the meantime, the residents continue to suffer from air and water pollution despite President Marcos’ order to investigate the erring companies.
Inside the Globe Asiana Business Park 2 are a mixture of tenants ranging from car dealers such as Cherry, construction materials, and heavy industries. The said business hub is in a state of neglect made evident with its untidy appearance although there were signs of trade and commerce with the presence of brand new Cherry cars parked in the wide open area.

If there are illegal smelting operations inside, there has to be an investigation by the DENR if these firms are violating environmental safety. But what about the San Simon LGU? Is the San Simon LGU coordinating with the DENR for the conduct of an investigation into the water and air pollution if Barangay Dela Paz? Nada.

For all and sundry, Arranza may had been right. These firms are operating a multi-million peso business illegaly under our noses in apparent disregard to the environment and to the health of Kapampangans.

So there.

Said Arranza: “Lead is dangerous,”
“Traces of the substance, if ingested, say, from contaminated fish or inhaled from polluted air, could affect the physical and mental development of children.”
But Arranza said this problem is being played out all over the country because “recycling firms are all over the country.”

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