CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY—There’s no truth to reports that wastes dumped on a sanitary landfill here has contaminated a river.
Local environment officials clarified this amid allegations that the landfill in Sitio Burakan, Barangay Pagalungan, has caused fish kill and skin illness among residents in a neighboring village.
Solid Waste Management division chief Elvisa Mabelin said the liquid substance emanating from wastes—called leachate—from the Pagalungan landfill is under control.
Mabelin maintained the leachate did not cause the reported fish kill in Iponan river, including the reported cases of skin irritation being experienced by residents in Barangay San Simon.
She said the leachate stays in a “cell,” a portion of the landfill where the garbage is dumped and proper intervention is being applied.
A cell, about five meters deep and a hectare wide, can accommodate up to 500,000 cubic meters of trash. The city generates an average of 800 cubic meters or 235 tons of garbage daily.
If the leachate pond has reached a certain level, Mabelin said it is then pumped back into the cell to ensure that it does not overflow.
She also made it clear that “the rainwater that flows to Iponan river is not contaminated by the leachate” from the landfill.
That’s why, she said, it is unlikely that the leachate will contaminate the Iponan river and affect the marine life as well as the health nearby residents.
Besides, she added, the Pagalungan landfill has only been in operation for seven months, so a contamination, if any, is not that “significant.”
Edgardo Naguio, a solid waste management coordinator, noted that in the reported fish kill and other reported adverse effects on the population, the San Simon village council failed to show evidence to support their complaint.
Naguio said not one killed fish was presented, and no one from San Simon had gone to the health center there to complain of skin illness.
It can be recalled that Cagayan de Oro is one of the cities facing charges before the Office of the Ombudsman for failing to comply with RA 9003, prompting the city government to close the 17-hectare dumpsite in Upper Dagong, Barangay Carmen and opening the Pagalungan landfill.
About P100 million from this year’s annual budget was allocated for the sanitary landfill, including the acquisition of the lot, land development, building of facilities, road maintenance, and operational needs. (PNA/Jigger J. Jerusalem)