DUMAGUETE CITY, Negros Oriental – On January 28, 2023 along Rizal Boulevard, numerous environmentalists, student groups, and concerned citizens demonstrate their opposition against the pyrolysis incinerator machine at the city government's Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) located at the border of Barangay Camanjac and Barangay Candau-ay.
The machine entered the city with the intention of converting garbage into building materials like hollow blocks and other byproducts in 2021. However, with the probing serious effects of the installed pyrolysis-gasification plant, many have expressed their grave concerns due to its harmful impacts on human health and the environment.
According to the Conservation Law Foundation, incinerating rubbish is a bad idea.
"Burning waste of any kind is hazardous to our health and the environment and undermines real solutions to our trash crisis."
The project's ₱22 Million budget was approved by the City Council as a way to address the issue of sustainable solid waste management. Mayor Felipe Antonio Remollo ordered the closure of the over 35-year-old dumpsite in Brgy. Candau-ay as the city MRF began its operations. Despite this, the government is squandering money and misguiding the populace in an effort to find an "invention" that offers a sustainable solution.
It appears that the Local Government Unit (LGU) is clutching at straws in an effort to find a rapid solution to the plastic trash problem, but the concept is foolish and imprudent.
Contrary to the efficiency and "Zero Waste" claims by the LGU in Dumaguete City, in actuality, this facility is not financially viable and holds no value; even if burning trash does not result in air and carbon pollution –which is improbable, gasification and pyrolysis consume expensive fuel with little to no financial return, making it an unwise investment
Any waste burning puts our health, the ecology, and the climate in peril. Contrary to what proponents of gasification and pyrolysis assert, these technologies are not environmentally friendly.
This facility produce air pollutants that are comparable to those from traditional trash burning, tenfold even worst. They expel a variety of cancer-causing substances that have been called the most poisonous chemicals ever discovered by humans. Additionally, dioxins, mercury, and other heavy metals are tainted in the ash "byproduct" of these operations, which seeps into our groundwater, rivers, and oceans, eventually contaminating our other natural resources, livelihoods, and food sources.
Despite the fact that the Philippine government has taken serious note of the many concerns about incineration at a governmental level, and following strong public opposition to incinerators, pursuant to Republic Act No. 8749, otherwise known as the "Philippine Clean Air Act of 1999" forbidding the incineration of hazardous wastes as this method emits harmful and dangerous gases; Section 20 of the same Act says it "does not absolutely prohibit incineration as a mode of waste disposal; rather only those burning processes which emit poisonous and toxic fumes are banned." It also defines 'poisonous and toxic fumes' as emissions and fumes that exceed globally established criteria, such as those of the World Health Organization (WHO) guideline values.
With the cooperation of Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA), Greenpeace Philippines, Plastic Free Philippines, and War On Waste (WOW) Negros Oriental, on February 6, 2023 at the Silliman University Del Carmen Hall, Burn Not Dumaguete, a movement of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO) and professionals working to stop the Pyrolysis-Gasification technology in the City, conduct a special session with KT Andresky the Campaign Organizer of Breathe Free Detroit, a grassroots and community-led movement formed to shut down the Detroit incinerator, sharing her community efforts in successfully closing down the biggest waste incinerator in Detroit, Michigan in the United States. She is an activist who spent more than ten years residing near the Detroit Renewable Power (DWP) incinerator where she experienced first-hand the negative impacts of the facility on the community dwelling in the shadow of the incinerator.
"The possible impacts of heavy metal toxins and other contaminants in the environment are quite tenacious and may persist for a long period beyond the area near the incinerator. Persistent pollutants can travel vast distances from their emission sources, through many chemical and physical transformations, and pass multiple times through soil, water, and food" she iterated.
Andresky promotes public involvement, public education, and community action initiatives to educate and empower her community, as she hopes Dumaguete City will follow suit.