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Court denies Macaraig petition

EMB COMPLIANT. A dump truck downloading collected garbage at the newly-opened San Isidro (Naga) sanitary landfill.

NAGA CITY --- The newly-operated Naga Sanitary Landfill (SLF) scored yet another taste of victory after the Regional Trial Court here denied the application of Writ of Continuing Mandamus through a Temporary Environmental Protection Order (TEPO) that sought to restrain the SLF from operating “due to non-compliance with specific mandatory requirements of RA 2009 and RA 9275.”

Republic Act No. 9003 provides for an ecological solid waste management program that includes the operation of a sanitary landfill by every local government unit.

RA 9275 of the Philippine Clean Water Act of 2004, on the other hand, seeks to protect the country’s water bodies from pollution from land-based sources that include industries and commercial establishments, agriculture and community/household activities.

The petition for mandamus was filed by a group identifying itself as “The Generations Yet Unborn” being represented by lawyer Allan Reiz Macaraig.

In denying the petition, Judge Leo Intia of RTC Branch 27 here said the movants (plaintiff Generations Yet Unborn and Atty. Macaraig) failed to present evidence to support their TEPO application.

Shortly after Judge Intia’s order was handed down last Sept. 2, Naga City Mayor Nelson Legacion said he was confident from the very start that such favorable decision was coming because the city government has been compliant with the criteria for the establishment of the Sanitary Landfill when it was finally opened for operation almost a month ago, after years of delay in its construction.

“We have even started the construction of a water treatment plant within the SLF facility even if it was not required of us in the operation of such sanitary landfill,” Legacion added.

Contrary to what Atty. Macaraig had been alleging, Legacion enumerated the following features, as required by the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB), that can be found at the sanitary landfill in Bgy. San Isidro, this city, which, he said, the petitioners failed to see:

1. Liners, which is a system of clay layers used to contain leachate or prevent contaminant flow into groundwater;

2. Leachate collection and treatment system, which is the installation of pipes at the low areas of the liner to collect leachate for storage and eventual treatment and discharge;

3. Gas control and recovery system, which is a series of vertical wells or horizontal trenches containing permeable materials and perforated piping placed in the landfill to collect gas for treatment or productive use as an energy source;

4. Groundwater monitoring well system, or wells placed at an appropriate location and depth for taking water that are representative of ground water quality;

5. Cover, is actually two forms of cover consisting of soil and geosynthetic materials to protect the waste from long-term contact with the environment: a daily cover placed over the waste at the close of each day’s operations, and; the final cover, or cap, which is the material placed over the completed landfill to control infiltration of water, gas emission to the atmosphere, and erosion;

6. Closure procedure with the objectives of establishing low maintenance cover systems and final cover that minimizes the infiltration of precipitation into the waste. Installation of the final cover would have to be completed within 6 months of the last receipt of waste; and

7. Post-closure care procedure. During this period, the landfill owner will be responsible in providing for the general upkeep of the landfill, maintaining all of the landfill’s environmental protection features, operating monitoring equipment, remediating groundwater should it become contaminated and controlling landfill gas migration or emission.

The SLF’s initial victory, a twin triumph actually, was felt by Naga residents when it was finally opened for operation last August 14, this year. Consequently, its opening also signaled the final closure of the city’s 60-year old open dumpsite in Bgy. Balatas, also of this city.

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