On Looming Garbage Crisis: What now CDC, BCDA?

An environmental disaster is looming in Central Luzon and parts of Pangasinan and Benguet — a veil of destruction and economic dislocation awaiting to shroud like a pall of doom to nearly half of the Luzon Island.

This stemmed from the plan of the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) and the Clark Development Corporation (CDC) to shut down the only waste facility in Central Luzon – the Kalangitan Sanitary Landfill in Capas, Tarlac.

In five months, the 25-year contract of Kalangitan Sanitary Landfill management — the Metro Clark Waste Management Corporation’s (MCWMC) — will end. And there is no alternative in sight to replace the MCWMC amid the concerns of some 122 municipalities and cities from 8 provinces — Bataan, Benguet, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, Pangasinan, Tarlac, Zambales, and parts of Benguet.

The Kalangitan Landfill is an integral part of the regional waste management system being the largest sanitary landfill in Central Luzon that complies with environmental standards of Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000. Almost all industrial and hospital wastes are being sent to Kalangitan Landfill for processing and its absence may trigger environmental crisis and economic dislocation.

Locators in the growth centers of Central Luzon such as the Clark Freeport Zone, Subic Bay Freeport Zone, the emerging New Clark City, et cetera, will be affected by the absence of a well-managed sanitary landfill like Kalangitan. If BCDA and CDC will not extend the use of Kalangitan Landfill, it will trigger the worst ever environmental mess in Central Luzon all the way to the North. Even the hospital wastes and other hazardous wastes will have nowhere to go. 

Said VP for Operations and Marketing Noel Anthony Valdes, of Dolomatric Philippines Inc.: “The closure of MCWMC will not only affect LGUs and local waste disposal but more crucially, multi-national export-oriented manufacturing industries, such as semi conductors and high value electronics that adhere to internationally accepted disposal practices that only MCWMC can meet.”

Chief Operating Officer Ronel Pagcalinawan, of the Cleanway Environmental Management Solutions Inc. said, “MCWMC has been a vital partner in hazardous waste management. Its operation cessation would affect several TSD companies like us and local government units within the province and region.”

With no environmentally compliant sanitary landfill, the existence of the Freeport zones will be greatly affected and may result to investors leaving and moving their operations elsewhere in Asia. Just recently, L and T Corporation has already shut down its operations in Clark Freeport, but that was another story to tell.

Both BCDA and CDC are reportedly poised to close the Kalangitan Landfill and have maintained that there will be no extension or renewal of the contract with MCWMC. The Kalangitan Sanitary Landfill will reportedly be converted into a tourism-oriented development. Yes, a tourism-related investment on top of wastes.

The BCDA and CDC should protect the precious remaining investments inside the freeports because thousands will lose their jobs if and when these locators decided to close shop because of the absence of a well-managed waste facility.

“Closing Kalangitan without any alternative plan to deal with the massive waste that needs to be disposed daily is irresponsible of BCDA and CDC with both agencies in-charge of instituting economic progress and development within and around the former US Military installations in the region,” the LGUs said.

“The current or proposed plans of BCDA and CDC to convert the existing sanitary landfill into other use such as tourism oriented development is seen by many as not just irresponsible.”

These LGUs in Regions 1, 3, and the Cordillera Administrative Region had already sent a petition to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the National Solid Waste Commission to stop the closure of the waste facility in Capas, Tarlac, home to the much-vaunted New Clark City.

 “The closure of this facility threatens to precipitate literally overnight, a severe waste management crisis throughout 3 Regions in Luzon directly affecting millions of its people,” the petition letter read. It will precipitate a “severe waste management crisis.”

More than 4,000 tons of wastes are being brought on a daily basis to the Kalangitan Landfill.

In the meantime, the BCDA and CDC are playing deaf ears. Let’s see what will happen when the Kalangitan Sanitary Landfill closes.

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