(File photo)

The city government will submit a “comprehensive pollution control program” to the Pollution Adjudication Board (PAB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in a bid to persuade it to lift the cease and desist order (CDO) it issued to stop the leachate treatment plant (LTP) from dispensing treated liquids from the solid waste landfill.

City administrator and legal counsel Atty. Arnel Pedrosa said they have already received the CDO last week from the DENR’s Enviromental Management Bureau (EMB) concerning the operation of the LTP.

Under the cease and desist order, the city government was directed to comply with the government’s anti-pollution policies regarding the treatment plant by submitting a control program that would indicate mitigation measures.

“Pinakoko-comply tayo ng DENR, especially ‘yong chief executive natin na mag-submit ng comprehensive pollution control program. Surety bond equivalent to 25 percent ng total cost of the pollution control program, detailed description of the interim remedial measure na ini-implement ng city government to mitigate ‘yong pollution, at saka proof of employment of a pollution control officer,” said Pedrosa.

Pedrosa pointed out that the issued CDO was only about the “prohibition of discharging” any polluted liquid from the LTP to the adjacent river of the city sanitary landfill in Barangay Sta. Lourdes.

He said the LTP can still treat liquid waste from the landfill as long as it does not release them out of the facility.

“Tumatakbo pa rin siya [ang LTP], hindi lang tayo talaga puwedeng mag-release ng tubig o ano mang liquid doon [galing] sa LTP. Hindi lang  natin puwedeng i-release doon sa discharge points. [Sa document] parang lumalabas din na puwede pa naman [ang operation ng LTP] basta mag-submit lang ang city government nitong mga requirements na hinihingi sa amin, kasama na diyan ang undertaking ng mayor,” said Paedrosa.

Pedrosa also mentioned that the CDO document was presented in a more generic manner than specific.

Pedrosa said the collection of solid waste from all over Puerto Princesa is still ongoing.

“Para ma-silence ‘yong mga critics, pati na rin ‘yong suspicion ng DENR, we might as well accept na isara na lang talaga muna ‘yong discharge points,” said Pedrosa.

Earlier, EMB regional director Atty. Michael Drake Matias told Palawan News their technical staff from the DENR-MIMAROPA served the CDO and implemented the closure on August 1.

Matias noted that the CDO document contains an order from the PAB to seal all the discharge points of the LTP that go directly to the adjacent Tagburos river.

“What we did to implement the order, sineal naming ‘yong mga discharge points nila para hindi nila mailabas ‘yong tubig. Sineal natin ‘yong discharge point nila. Base sa order ng PAB ang history nito ay meron siyang discharges from the Leachate Treatment Plant (LTP) niya. So ito ‘yong nagfe-fail sa standards natin and it causes ‘yong pagtaas o ‘yong deterioration ng quality ng water doon sa Tagburos River, kung saan ‘yong Leachate Treatment Plant niya ay doon tumutuloy, so nakaka-affect na siya doon sa water quality ng Tagburos,” said Matias.

Matias noted it was in August 2018 when discharges from the sanitary landfill’s LTP failed to meet the water effluence standard of the DENR.

He said the city sanitary landfill was issued a notice of violation (NOV) where a commitment to give proper solution was also promised by the proponents.

However, he said the city government was unable to give “necessary solutions to the problem”.

“Medyo matagal na ring problema ito kasi August 2018 pa ata may sampling na nag-ano nga ‘yong quality ng water sa Tagburos bumababa. In-endorse nila sa PAB ‘yon, sabi ng PAB we have to get water samples doon sa discharge mismo. Iyon ang kinuha nating water sample, bagsak siya doon sa standard natin that’s why we endorsed it again to the Pollution Adjudication Board,” Matias said.

In an earlier interview also, City Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) senior environmental management specialist Mary Ann Joylle Madriñan said the LTP of the was already operational since July 2.

She said they were only waiting for the water sampling result conducted by a private laboratory in the city.

Madriñan said the LTP was non-operational since 2014 and was only repaired July this year, costing P3.5 million.

“Iyong ating LTP, dito nailalagay lahat ‘yong mga katas ng basura doon sa sanitary landfill. Alam natin na ‘yong sanitary landfill kaya siya tinaguriang sanitary landfill, lahat ng katas ay nakokolekta ng liner. Iyong ilalim ng ating sanitary landfill ay may makapal na plastic sa ilalim, nakabalo — lahat ng katas ng basura hindi pumupunta sa ground water [kundi] nakokolekta siya,” said Madriñan.

The perforated pipes collect the discharges and flow them directly to the LTP for treatment.

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