A coalition of a dozen organizations advocating environmental protection and ecological balance has formally declared its opposition to the proposed waste-to-energy project of the Davao City Government in a four-page position paper submitted to Davao City Mayor Sara Z. Duterte and Assistant Administrator Tristan Dwight Domingo, head of the project team.
The paper, titled “Waste Incineration in Davao –Burning our Present: Wasting Our Future,” is authored by No Burn Pilipinas-Mindanao and joined by 12 other groups of advocates.
It was first publicly discussed by Lorenzo de Vera of IDIS (Interface Development Interventions) in last week’s Kapehan sa Dabaw media forum at the SM Annex at Ecoland. The paper calls for the discontinuation of all waste-to-energy projects in Davao City.
The document zeroed in on a public-private partnership venture to set up a waste incinerator plant by 2022 at the Gatillo-Manundang property in Brgy. Biao Escuela, Tugbok District, with technology provider Nippon Steel and Sumikin Engineering Co., Ltd. (NSENGI) and with funding from the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and other local and foreign investors.
The paper claimed that the project “will jeopardize our common mission of creating a green, sustainable and waste-free Davao, and become a precedent for the establishment of similar facilities throughout Mindanao. “
“The plans for additional WtE plants from the results of the “Davao City Infrastructure Development Plan and Capacity Building Project” (IM4Davao) will extend into the 2040s the far-reaching health, environmental and economic risks of waste incineration as well,” according to the paper.
The coalition cited four reasons why it is calling for the discontinuation of the WtE projects, particularly the 2022 JICA-funded plant.
The coalition alleged that the WtE project is illegal.
It said the project will employ an NSENGI-provided grate
stoker furnace— a mass-burn technology that directly combusts municipal solid
waste (MSW), producing toxic ash, heavy metals and carcinogenic air pollutants
as by-products. Section 20 of the Clean Air Act of 1999 (RA
8749) explicitly forbids any form of waste incineration which, to
wit: “emits poisonous and toxic fumes.” Despite all efforts at pollution
control, flue gas scrubbing, ash disposal and filtering technologies, it is a
fact that incinerators of the type NSENGI proposes cannot completely and
consistently eliminate toxic by-products such as mercury, dioxins and
furans, and therefore implementation thereof violates our country’s laws. It
said the project “is irreconcilable with the Philippine’s commitment to
eliminate Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) under the 2001 Stockholm
Convention, to which the country is
a signatory, and the non-POPs projects being undertaken by the
DENR-EMB with the help of the Global Environment Facility at UNIDO.”
The New Carmen Sanitary Landfill’s (SLF) lifespan has shortened supposedly because of Davao’s increasing municipal solid waste (MSW) generation and disposal at the SLF. The project seeks to reverse this by diverting MSW into the incinerator plant instead. However, it is clear that WtE does not address the problem at its root— it does not reduce MSW generation at the source. To take increased MSW generation as the primary cause of the SLF’s shortened is lifespan is misleading because the majority of MSW being disposed therein has not been limited to residual waste as should be intended.
The paper also claimed “the calorific content of Davao City’s MSW is too low. The WtE project contract stipulates a requirement for the city to deliver 600 tons/day of MSW that is of 1800 kcal/kg in calorific value to the plant. Waste Analysis and Characterization Studies (WACSs) led by NSENGI do not conclusively show that Davao City’s MSW will consistently meet the calorific content.”
The coalition claimed that the chlorine content of Davao City’s MSW is too high. According to the Best Available Techniques and Best Environmental Practices (BAT/BEPs) of the 2001 Stockholm Convention on POPs, when the chlorine content exceeds 1% of the MSW material, waste incineration must operate at temperatures of 1100-1200°C, to prevent excessive production of dioxins.
NSENGI’s proposed technology has allegedly compromised dioxin and
furans elimination for reduced costs.
The members of the coalition attached the logos of the 13 coalition members.
Mayor Sara and the committee on environmental protection of the Davao City Council are expected to call for the dialogue with the coalition to tackle the project, an official of IDIS told Edge Davao in a text message. ANTONIO M. AJERO