WTE project in Davao to cause pollution, environment group warns

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/07 May) – Building a waste-to-energy (WTE) facility will bring pollution and cause other inconveniences to residents, environment group Interface Development Interventions (IDIS) said on Monday.

IDIS was reacting to the city government’s plan to build the facility in Biao Escuela, Tugbok District, classified as a prime agricultural land sub-zone, and about a kilometer away from the rural settlement zone (RSZ) in Biao Escuela in Tugbok District.

“If a WTE facility will be in place, it will really cause numerous impacts to these residential areas, from air pollution, noise pollution, and road disturbances caused by trucks to transport wastes,” IDIS environmental research specialist Lemuel Manalo said.

The 2013-2022 Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance of Davao City allows for “rational land utilization for economic development of the Prime Agricultural Areas in consonance with the City Land Use Plan and Zoning Ordinance; promotion of sustainable and organic upland agriculture; and crop diversification for crop suitability and profitability” in prime agricultural land sub-zone.

The ordinance defines RSZ as “areas in the barangays within 500-meter radius from an existing elementary school sites wherein a mixture of land uses i.e. residential and commercial are established to provide convenience goods and services that are compatible with the overall characteristics of the area, is allowed excluding areas in landslide mitigation sub-zone wherein settlement zone is not allowed.”

Manalo said the local government was pushing to reclassify the area from prime agricultural land subzone to waste management zone to allow the construction of a WTE project.

But there are applications for socialized housing near the proposed site of the WTE project, he said.

He urged the city council to consider the environmental aspect in making decisions on the WTE project, which uses an incineration technology to produce energy.

He demanded the city government to explain first what kind of WTE facility it plans to put up because the kind of technology that it would be importing from Japan remains vague.

“In japan, the calorific value requirement of the WTE is suited for the quality of plastics that are in Japan. But the quality of plastics here in Davao City is low,” he said.

He expressed concern this may force the local plastic manufacturers to raise the quality of plastics to meet the calorific value requirement of the WTE and obtain supply of plastic wastes from other cities.

IDIS policy advocacy officer Amelou Catague added the WTE project would not address the solid waste management problem of the city.

She urged voters here not to give their votes to candidates supporting the establishment of the project.

“We are encouraging our voters not to vote the politicians who are for the WTE. We are in partnership with the No Burn Pilipinas (NBP) on disseminating the effect of WTE project,” she said.

She maintained that this project would violate Republic Act 8749 or the Philippine Clean Air Act and the Ecological Solid Waste Management Ordinance of 2009 of Davao City.

She encouraged the voters to also look into the platforms of the candidates because “we have already gotten tired of seeing them sing and dance” to win votes.

She said the voters should see if the politicians have concrete plans to address the growing environmental problems of the city as well as their position on various issues before casting their votes on May 13.

Ruel Kenneth Felices, IDIS partnership building officer, said voters must also demand from the politicians to take concrete steps on the “most pressing environmental issues” here such as aerial spraying, lack of septage and sewerage facility, deforestation, unsustainable agriculture, land conversion/ zoning reclassification, contamination of water sources, unsustainable transportation, massive quarrying, plastic pollution, air pollution and dirty energy.

“It is time for Philippine elections to cease being a popularity contest. People are tired of the same crap we get no matter who we put in power,” he said.

He added politicians aspiring to serve the Dabawenyos should have clear policies on environmental protection to prevent similar problems experienced in Manila. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)