Kiln at cement plant in Iligan City explodes

Cement dust settles on the the national highway in Barangay Kiwalan, Iligan City on Monday, 6 December 2021. Photo by Marivic Davis

ILIGAN CITY (MindaNews / 07 December) – A kiln at Republic Cement Corp. in Barangay Kiwalan, Iligan City exploded around 2:00 p.m. on Monday, alarming residents and passersby.

The explosion created a cloud of dust over the place and carried traces of cement to the trees and houses near the plant.

Netizens posted pictures and videos on Facebook showing a huge plume of cement dust coming out from the plant housing its clinker manufacturing process.

Jo Pantojoa, spokesperson of the Iligan City government said they are investigating the incident since it could pose health hazards to the 7,700 residents of Kiwalan.

Pantoja said the Kiwalan barangay council and the Environmental Management Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources are also investigating the Aboitiz-owned company regarding the incident.

Republic Cement president Lloyd Vicente, in a statement said “an equipment malfunction” resulted in “a conveyor tube blockage” causing the explosion.

Vicente said “operations were immediately halted as soon as the incident occurred” early Monday afternoon.

He said they conducted cleanup operations immediately after the incident.

“While most of the cement landed within our site, cleanup operations on the national highway affected have been completed,” he said.

He said they also informed the local government units and the DENR-EMB right after the incident occurred.

“The well-being and safety of our community and employees is important to us and remains our top priority,” he said.

He added they are now looking for a new equipment to prevent a similar incident from happening again.

He expressed apologies to the residents and the local government.

Environmentalist Raoul Geologue said the DENR-EMB should send a team to the site to evaluate the incident.

He said that although cement dust is non-toxic it could result in irreparable damage to the lungs of those who would inhale it.

After the explosion residents closed their houses and stores to prevent dust and smoke from getting inside.

Hazel Ann Estodillo, a resident, said the food they sold wasn’t affected as they reacted quickly to the incident. (Froilan Gallardo/MindaNews with a report from Marivic Davis)