Expert warns of risks of Manila Bay reclamations after Florida condo collapse


Posted at Jul 09 2021 12:59 PM

Expert warns of risks of Manila Bay reclamations after Florida condo collapse 1
View of the partially collapsed residential building as rescue operations are stopped, in Surfside, Florida, US, July 4, 2021. Marco Bello, Reuters

MANILA - A Filipino-American geologist on Friday warned about the danger of reclamation projects at the Manila Bay following the collapse of an oceanfront condominium in Miami, Florida that killed at least 64 people.

Kelvin Rodolfo, professor emeritus of Earth & Environmental Sciences at the University of Illinois in Chicago, said buildings in the harbor may experience "concrete cancer," which means the deterioration of concrete when the steel rod inside is exposed to salty air.

He said all concrete is porous to some extent but most especially the Pinatubo lahar sand, which is being used in construction.

"Sa Metro Manila ngayon, kinakabahan ako dahil maraming kongkretong ginagawa na gumagamit sila ng lahar sand na galing sa Pampanga," he told Teleradyo.

(In Metro Manila, I am concerned because many concrete projects used lahar sand from Pampanga.)

Rodolfo, also a senior research fellow of non-profit research institute Manila Observatory, said reclaimed land at the Manila Bay is in danger of rising sea levels, storm surges and waves.

He lamented that those pushing reclamations had succeeded. 

"There is a war going on and the reclamation is winning because there's big money behind the reclamation," he said.

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Meanwhile, a Department of Environment and Natural Resources official on Friday assured the public that reclamation projects at the Manila Bay underwent rigorous processes.

"Kapag gagawa tayo ng reclamation, ito ay nakabase sa masusing pag-aaral at talagang careful tayo. Pagka mali ang ating mga pagpaplano diyan, talagang mangyayari ang mga disaster na kinatatakutan natin," Environment Undersecretary Jonas Leones told Teleradyo.

(When we conduct reclamation, it's based on thorough study and we are careful. Because if there are errors in our plans, disasters that we fear the most will happen.)

Due to the impact of the climate crisis, Leones said the agency was pushing for climate change adaptation instead of mitigation.

According to the United Nations, climate change adaptation refers to adjustments in ecological, social, or economic systems in response to actual or expected climatic stimuli and their effects or impacts. It refers to changes in processes, practices, and structures to moderate potential damages or to benefit from opportunities associated with climate change.

"In simple terms, countries and communities need to develop adaptation solution and implement action to respond to the impacts of climate change that are already happening, as well as prepare for future impacts," the UN said on its website. 

- With a report from Reuters