Dagupan faces massive garbage problem
By Yolanda Sotelo
DAGUPAN CITY – It is almost every year that this city’s dumpsite in Bonuan Boquig experiences fire, a worker at the dumpsite said.
“It was only in 2016 that the 50-year old dumpsite did not get burned down. There was even a year when the entire dumpsite was flattened by a fire,” Antonio Esteves said.
Garbage as high as 6-10 meters lines a road along the Tondaligan Park. The dumpsite occupies 3-4 hectares and emits a stench enough to make passersby puke and may cause health problems to the nearby residents.
Last week, a fire gutted at least half of the garbage, Esteves said.
Right after the fire, the Environment Management Bureau Ilocos regional office issued a cease and desist order to the Dagupan City government from using the dump site, but still, some dump trucks are seen coming in and out, dumping garbage collected from the city’s 30 villages.
“Where will we bring the garbage?” a confused waste management truck driver, said, as workers haul black bags into the truck near a government building.
The fire may have been contained, but smoke still emanates from different areas. A worker is seen on top of a heap, hosing down the smoke with water from a firetruck below.
In a corner, a family of scavengers was hauling their possessions from a makeshift house. The family is one of the 30 families living in the dumpsite which were transferred to the core shelters provided by the city government through the Bottoms Up Budgeting project of the national government.
While happy with the prospect of living in a cleaner surrounding, Jessie Doctolero, 27, said the core shelter is far from the dump site, his family’s “workplace.” The core shelters are located about three kilometers away.
Relocating the scavengers was one of the steps the city government undertook in efforts to solve the garbage problem of Dagupan. In a statement, Mayor Belen Fernandez said the waste-to-worth project with a private company that would use the garbage as fuel source, is now under evaluation. A memorandum of agreement for the project was signed in 2014.
Meantime, the city’s garbage kept on piling at the dump site located near the beach in an area declared as Tondaligan Park.
The city government maintains a facility that processes biodegradable wastes into organic fertilizer.
But this is just a very small portion of the wastes, said Sammy Flores, in charge of the composting machine.
He could not, however, say the volume of fertilizer that the facility churns out daily or monthly.
Very few barangays segregate their garbage into biodegradable and non-biodegradable, Esteves said.
A big part of the garbage is plastics. Because they are not biodegradable, they stick out, still vibrant in color, from the sides of the garbage heaps that are already decomposing.
None of those working at the dumpsite knew what to do next after the EMB issued the cease and desist order to the city government.
“We are waiting for the waste-to-worth (or energy) that would be implemented by the city government,” Clores said.
City officials are scrambling to look for sanitary landfills that would accommodate the city’s garbage. On the instruction of Fernandez, Nicanor Melecio, a consultant of the city government, asked Urdaneta City to accommodate the garbage.
Urdaneta obliged, but only for 1.5 tons daily. Dagupan produces some 20 tons of garbage daily.
Melecio said they would try to talk with officials of San Fernando City which operates a sanitary landfill.
When asked where the truckload of wastes from the Astrodome would be brought, the driver said, “Bonuan dumpsite.”
He knew the dumpsite has been closed, but he said he would still try.
“Where else would we go?” he said.
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