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Massive garbage crisis looms with planned Kalangitan landfill closure

Millions of Central Luzon residents may face a massive garbage crisis after the Bases Conversion Development Agency (BCDA) disclosed plans about closing the Kalangitan Sanitary landfill located in Capas, Tarlac before yearend.

Primarily local government leaders, business and industries, economic zones among others are set to rally against the government’s plan to abruptly close down the largest waste disposal facilities in in Central and Northern Luzon.

Both BCDA and its subsidiary, Clark Development Corporation (CDC), principal proponents of the 25-year contract with Metro Clark Waste Management Corporation (MCWMC) maintained that with the expiration of its contract this October, there will be no extension or renewal to be granted and that the engineered sanitary landfill builder and operator (MCWMC) should immediately cease its operations.

Alarms have been raised during a meeting of the National Solid Waste Commission when the Environmental Management Bureau of Region 3 reported that his office had been advised by CDC officials about the planned immediate closure of the Kalangitan waste disposal facilities as soon as the government’s contract with MCWM expires this coming October.

Fearing of a widespread environmental and health crisis as a result of the imminent closure of the largest waste disposal facility in Central and Northern Luzon regions, front line officials of the Environment Offices of various concerned local government units within Regions 1, 3 and Cordillera Administrative Regions were prompted to write a petition letter to Environment Secretary Ma.Antonia Yulo-Loyzaga including the regional officers of the National Solid Waste Management Commission (EMB-1 and 3).

The petition cited the Kalangitan facility as “an integral part to our regional waste management system handling more than 4,000 tons of wastes daily and being the only sanitary landfill of its size in the region that fully complies with the environmental standards mandated by Republic Act 9003”….

“The closure of this facility threatens to precipitate literally overnight, a severe waste management crisis throughout 3 Regions in Luzon directly affecting millions of its populace,” the petition letter stated.

The environmental officers of local government units in the three (3) Regions at the same time expressed their concerns over the “absence of comparable alternatives, as other facilities are either not fully capacitated, non compliant with RA9003, too small or financially unfeasible or not affordable for their respective local governments”.

Disruptive and counter-productive

The current or proposed plans of BCDA and CDC to convert the existing sanitary landfill into other use such as tourism-oriented development is seen by many as not just irresponsible but likewise disruptive and counter-productive.

Closing Kalangitan without any alternative plan to deal with the massive waste that needs to be disposed daily is irresponsible of BCDA/CDC with both agencies in-charge of instituting economic progress and development within and around the former US Military installations in the region.

MCWMC’s engineered sanitary landfill in Kalangitan currently caters to more than 120 local government units (cities and municipalities) in Central Luzon including a few key cities and provinces of Northern Luzon.

Waste disposals of nearly all households, business establishments including malls, hospitals, industries operating in cities and provinces in Central Luzon are being serviced by the Kalangitan landfill.

Apart from these, major economic zones (Subic and Clark) are both dependent on the presence of an efficient waste disposal facility for their large quantity of households and industrial wastes.

Alternative landfill sites

At present, the 4,000-5,000 daily household, industrial and institutional wastes being hauled and disposed in the world-class Kalangitan sanitary landfill can easily be accommodated at a lesser cost to local governments and far more efficient than the more expensive and less efficient landfill site located in the west end of Central Luzon (Floridablanca, Pampanga).

The supposed alternative land fill has yet to secure the necessary permits required by government regulatory agencies. Its capacity and operational capability remains doubtful as it can only accommodate far less than the Kalangitan landfill facilities.