The proposed Waste to Energy (WTE) project for the city has not yet reached the legislative level but once it does, the City Council expects it to undergo massive consultation process.
“Once it reaches us we will consult all groups for and against the project especially the residents who will be affected by the project,” Councilor Bernard Al-ag said.
Davao City is eyeing the WTE project as a possible solution to its waste problem. The Japanese International Coordinating Agency (JICA) is preparing. feasibility study for the WTE facility.
Al-ag said they have not received any document about the WTE facility proposal yet but he expects it to undergo a long process.
“The first step is for the proponent to submit the proposal to the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Board,” he said. The documents have to be finalized at the executive level before it can reach the City Council for approval, he added.
Mayor Sara Duterte earlier said the city is eyeing a small WTE facility for the city to go with a fully-mechanized Materials Recovery Facility. The vision is to locate the WTE and MRF facilities in an area where a smaller landfill and a solid waste processing complex will also be established.
But even before the WTE project could take off, the city government has already received warnings from environmental groups and environmental experts on the dangers of the WTE.
Dr. Jorge Emmanuel, a United Nations environment expert and a Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Balik Scientist who left the Philippines since 1969 and who came back over a year ago, warned city officials about the hazards of putting up the WTE facility being pushed by foreign vendors.
“The city officials should be very careful with all thermal waste-to-energy technologies, including gasification, pyrolysis and plasma technologies,” he said.
He said the city should distinguish between the biological WTE technology which makes use of natural processes in getting energy from waste which is acceptable, and the high-tech, high temperature thermal WTE which generate poisonous and toxic fumes called dioxins.
Among the identified toxic substances emitted by WTE equipment are acide gases, poisonous metals such as lead and mercury, benzene and polychlorinated dioxins and furans that can cause cancer.
“Dioxins are the most toxic chemical substances known to science: one drop of dioxins in a medium-size lake can cause serious health effects. Dioxins are associated with chronic lymphocytic leukemia, prostate cancer, lung cancer, and other types of cancers,” he said.
He said Dioxins are also linked to birth defects, problems with female ovaries, reduced sizes of male genitals, and other reproductive disorders, as well as developmental problems such as decreased IQ in children. What makes it worse, he said, is that Dioxins in the soil can take between 250 to 1,000 years to disappear. Dioxins enter the body through the lungs but mostly through eating meat, fish, eggs and milk products in which dioxins concentrate.
Emmanuel offered his services for free to the city. Lovely A. Carillo