Binaliw Landfill (photo by Allan Defensor)

CEBU CITY, Philippines- The operator of the Binaliw landfill is confident of getting the nod of incoming Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella once the incumbent Vice Mayor assumes office next month. Their contract with the Cebu City government incidentally will start on July 1 just as Labella will assume office in the afternoon of June 30 replacing Mayor Tomas Osmena whom the Vice Mayor defeated in the recent May 13 polls.

Sherwin Santos, President and Executive Director of ARN Central Waste Management Inc. described their facility as highly compliant and beneficial to the city, adding, it is one that would make Cebu proud as it can be the “model” in landfill for the entire country. “Our objective is to make sure that our facility is highly compliant and that our facility will be beneficial to the city.

We believe if ever the Mayor (Labella) will be favoring the methods that we have, it will be by merit, meaning the entire LGU will see that it’s meritorious, it’s highly engineered, the entire process is really scientifically designed.” “This is something that the entire Cebu, the entire people of Cebu could really be proud of. Once and for all, I think we will be able to create a model wherein the entire Philippines can learn from. Why? Because if you look around you even if the facilities are not yet complete, we already created an ocean of difference compared with your conventional landfill facilities,” Santos said.

Labella earlier aired his reservation against the landfill as some of its barangay officials and residents are against it citing sanitation and environmental concerns. Labella announced that he will create a committee to be lead by incoming city attorney Rey Gealon to review the contract of the landfill operation and look into the complaints which also reached the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB-7).

The committee will have environmental experts the incoming mayor revealed to look into the viability of the facility. Santos said all the concerns were acted upon accordingly by them even before it was raised. He said their operation would have to start yet if not for their ‘emergency response to a disaster” when the sanitary landfill in Consolacion was closed after a garbage slide last May that caused the death of a dump truck driver that was buried alive by the piles of trash.

The “smell” which was complained came from wastes that were already in a state of decomposition from Consolacion Santos explained and after that all wastes are already sprayed with odor neutralizing chemicals. After their technical hearing with EMB Regional Director William Cunado, all the haulers were already instructed to spray the wastes in their trucks with the odor neutralizing chemical before bringing it to the facility and that the trucks were also being suggested to be replaced with compactor trucks.

As far as leachate management, ARN Inc. Vice President for Operations Renz Soriano revealed they have a leachate pond and wash basin so that the trucks are clean before it will leave their facility. All the wastes will be segregated in their material recovery facility (MRF) by MRF attendants on a 24-hour rotation basis and will then be put in a pyrolysis machine that will convert it to crusty charcoal material that can be used as organic fertilizer and cement additives.

Meanwhile, since it is the start of the rainy season, Santos allayed fears of leachate spill and water seepage that will affect the groundwater and potentially harm low lying residents in Binaliw saying that the facility sits on a former quarry area where is there is no water table below. He said that their operation is environmentally sound as leachate can be contained as they put up an impermeable geotextile made up of High-density polyethylene (HDPE, a linear lining or matting that protects the groundwater.

Showing more confidence, Santos reiterated that they intend to make a public park within their facility that will also cater to tourists, students and others on field and educational trips to observe how their facility is run. “Let us open it to the public for public parks, except in this area where safety is needed. The rest of the area, we plan to showcase and really feature. For young Filipinos, we would like to inculcate in their minds as early as now, that there is a solution to the garbage problem and everybody can learn from this facility as far as environmental protection is concerned,” Santos said.

ARN according to Santos will also later on put up a Waste to Energy (WTE) plant within their facility which can increase the power supply in Cebu at a cheaper rate. Cebuano businessmen Mario King and Joselito Gullas, a scion of the influential Gullas family and an Engr. Arnold Espinosa, are the key investors of ARN.//AAJ