‘Not a landfill but a dumpsite’

Maria Althea Teves, abs-cbnNews.com/Newsbreak

Posted at May 09 2010 10:11 PM | Updated as of May 10 2010 06:24 AM

“That is not a landfill; that is a dump site,” is how Clemente Bautista of the Kalikasan People's Network for the Environment describes the Rizal Provincial Sanitary Landfill.

He cites the location of the 19-hectare landfill as one of the reasons why it should be called a “dump site.” Aside from being an open-air landfill, it is very near residential areas and bodies of water that it could contaminate the surroundings.

According to the United Nations Environment Programme, landfills are supposed to have a leachate treatment facility that should distill the “garbage juice” before it’s disposed into nearby bodies of water.

Leachate is cancerous liquid that is formed when garbage of different kinds are mixed together. It is made up of metals and usually contains cadmium (from batteries), mercury (from pharmaceuticals), arsenic, lead, and other metals.

There should also be a methane treatment facility to either convert the methane gas into power or to flare the methane in order to convert it into carbon dioxide.

Methane is a gaseous chemical compound formed in the garbage. Methane produces 21 times greater damage to the ozone layer compared to carbon dioxide.

Engineer Darrow Lucenario, a member of the Coalition of Garbage-Free San Mateo and a consultant in the landfill operations, says that the Rizal provincial landfill has leachate and methane treatment facilities but they are inadequate.

He noted that the leachate treatment facility lacks a reservoir to store untreated leachate whenever rain visits the area. The landfill needs this so that when the landfill overflows during rainy season, the leachate would not mix into nearby bodies of water.

Landfills in other countries, he says, have this facility.

The lining that is supposed to prevent the garbage from mixing with the soil is also too thin, he says.

Showing abs-cbnNews.com/Newsbreak blueprints of landfills abroad, Lucenario pointed out that they have 2 layers of lining which are 6 mm thick, unlike the Rizal landfill, which has a single-layer lining that’s only 3 mm thick.

This, he says, could make the leachate mix into the soil and seep out to bodies of water.

“The name dupes people into thinking that it is ‘sanitary,’ but, really, it is just a dumpsite,” said Bautista.

Better ways to manage waste

He cites accidents such as San Mateo landfill landslide to be a result of poor landfill operations.

Bautista says that landfills should be “the last resort to waste management.”

Proper waste management should start with homeowners properly segregating their garbage, he says. Recycling must be done by residents and big companies.

More importantly, municipalities should be responsible for good garbage collection. When trash is collected it should be segregated already in the truck.

The trucks should also be sealed so that leachate developing in the garbage will not leak out of the truck.
—Maria Althea Teves, abs-cbnNews.com/Newsbreak