Sarangani fast-tracking Pyroclave waste treatment operation to help fight COVID-19

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 10 March) – The provincial government of Sarangani is gearing up to employ the innovative non-incineration Pyroclave technology to treat medical waste generated in the province and neighboring areas to help prevent the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and other diseases from untreated medical wastes, an official said Wednesday.

Workers treat medical wastes using the Pyroclave technology. Photo courtesy of Rolando Tuballes / PENRO-Sarangani

Rolando Tuballes, Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office chief, said they are fast-tracking the construction of a temporary disposal site in the provincial capital of Alabel, where the medical waste treated by the Pyroclave technology will be disposed of.

“We already have the Pyroclave technology installed and ready to be used but we don’t have yet the disposal site. However, we are fast-tracking the construction of the temporary disposal site so we can start to treat medical wastes using such technology,” he told MindaNews on the phone.

“It is urgent that we start the full-blast commissioning of the Pyroclave technology to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in contaminated medical wastes,” Tuballes added.

According to him, the Department of Health (DOH) allowed the provincial government to establish a temporary disposal facility to be used for a maximum of two years, where the treated medical waste will be stored until the province’s sanitary landfill is completed.

The province has already completed the environmental impact statement (EIS) for the Sarangani Medical Waste Treatment Facility (SMWTF) and its final version is expected for submission to the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) next week, Tuballes said.

The EIS is a requirement for the EMB to issue the environmental compliance certificate, a clearance that will allow the province to operate the SMWTF.

Besides the P19.3-million Pyroclave technology, Tuballes said the SMWTF’s components include the construction of a sanitary landfill and wastewater treatment facility.

Tuballes said the construction of the province’s 2.8-hectare Category 3 sanitary landfill will be completed in about two years, just in time for the temporary disposal site to exhaust its life as authorized by the DOH.

The SMWTF will exclusively accept toxic and hazardous wastes from medical and industrial institutions, and not domestic or non-toxic wastes, as the latter falls under the responsibility of municipal government units, he pointed out.

Sarangani is the eighth in the country to use the Pyroclave Optima, the proprietary technology developed by the Davao City-based RAD Green Solutions.

Pyroclave, one of the top non-incineration technologies available in the market, is a medical waste processor that uses pyrolysis, the process of decomposing organic material using extreme heat in the absence of oxygen, a project briefer said.

It is used to specifically treat infectious, pathological and pharmaceutical wastes as well as bio-medical materials like syringes and needles, it said.

Tuballes explained that Pyroclave involves thermal disinfection using limited heat in treating wastes, as compared to incineration, another waste treatment process that involves burning.

He said that based on the recent test commissioning of the Pyroclave technology, it has a capacity of treating at least 150 kilograms of medical wastes per hour.

As the province-run six low-level hospitals generate an estimated 200 kg of medical wastes per day, he noted they will offer the facility to big or tertiary-level hospitals in this city, which generates an estimated four tons of medical wastes per day.

Engr. Gerald Faciol, assistant Sarangani provincial administrator, said the SMWTF is one of the income-generating projects classified by the provincial government as a local economic enterprise. (Bong S. Sarmiento / MindaNews)