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DENR asked to shut down Wacuman’s Norzagaray dumpsite

10:14 AM November 28, 2019

A Bulacan resident has asked the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to immediately shut down a dumpsite in Norzagaray for violating sanitation and environmental laws.

In a letter, Joel dela Torre, a resident of Norzagaray,  urged DENR Sec. Roy Cimatu to close Waste Custodian Management Inc. or Wacuman, which operates an 18.8-hectare landfill that covers Barangay Paradise III in San Jose del Monte to Sitio Tiakad in Barangay San Mateo in Norzagaray.

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“Residents like me have had to suffer the effects of environmental degradation and the health hazards caused by Wacuman’s operations,” Dela Torre said.

When Wacuman announced the opening of its sanitary landfill in January 2008, he said, “there was no public consultation nor public hearing on the operation of the landfill.”

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A decade later, Dela Torre said “the environment and the people have paid the terrible price for its existence.”

“The residents of my community have certainly suffered from the detrimental effects of this landfill. We know for a fact that it is hazardous for the community,” he said.

He cited an explosion at the Wacuman landfill in August 2017 that “caused a landslide of waste–which included discarded items from households and hospitals–to fall into the Istrabiyal River,” a water system that runs from Bulacan to Valenzuela and Manila Bay.

Dela Torre said according to the “Alliance for Consumer and Protection of the Environment (ACAPE), the Wacuman landfill violates Presidential Decree (PD) 1152, which prohibits landfills along the banks of rivers and streams.”

The landfill is also not included in the land use plan of San Jose del Monte or Norzagaray, he added.

“Other environmental groups such as the Bangon Kalikasan Movement, Green Convergence and Ecowaste Coalition have joined our clamor to for Wacuman to cease their operations,” according to him.

A study conducted in February 2019 by the CRL Environmental Corporation (CRL), a full service laboratory focused on environmental services, “on water samples from the area confirmed that the landfill brought ‘seriously reprehensible and unacceptable threats to health and environment.”

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Moreover, he said, “residents in the communities near Wacuman have complained of various ailments. These include respiratory diseases in children such as cough, colds, and asthma. There are also those who have experienced seemingly chronic diarrhea and skin diseases. The foul odor that emanates from the landfill also significantly affects the quality of life of the residents.”

Dela Torre said he is planning to file a case against Wacuman president and CEO Arthur Legaspi for violation of Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000.

“In particular, Wacuman’s existence goes against Rule 14, Section 1 of the said law, which mandates that ‘the location of the facility shall be consistent with the overall land use plan of the local government unit.’”

Dela Torre called on Cimatu to “help residents of San Jose del Monte, Bulacan–and the province of Bulacan in general–to be free from the curse that is Wacuman Landfill.”

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