EMB issues notice of violation, VMC assures action vs. pollution

The Victorias legislative inquiry Wednesday afternoon*

Victorias Milling Company officials assured that mitigating plans are in place following the spill of 3,000 metric tons or 1.8 million liters of its molasses into the Malihaw River that caused the emission of foul odor that affected 11 barangays in Victorias City

The VMC officials gave the assurance during a legislative inquiry held at the Victorias City Sangguniang Panlungssod Session Hall, Wednesday, May 24.

Victorias Councilor Dino Acuña, chairperson of the SP Committee on Natural Resources, Environmental Protection and Ecology, told DIGICAST NEGROS that the amount of molasses waste overwhelmed VMC’s wastewater treatment facilities, resulting in the spread of foul or rancid smell in 11 barangays of Victorias located within the city proper.

Earlier reports stated that one of the molasses tanks of VMC, the country’s largest sugar refinery, leaked and affected the Malihaw River causing foul odor this month.

Acuña said that the tank that leaked has a capacity for 10,000 metric tons but only contained 8,000 MT at the time of spillage, and about 3,000 MT or about 1.8 million liters of molasses spilled into the river.

Officials of VMC revealed that although they salvaged the spilled molasses in the Malihaw River, it overwhelmed their wastewater treatment facilities, causing the spread of foul smell, the councilor said.

“The foul smell was not controlled as the wastewater treatment plant of VMC that was overwhelmed as prior to the leakage, it was only dedicated for treating wastewater,” he said.

“We have requested all their long and short-term mitigating plans to contain the problem,” he added.

While VMC has assured that mitigation plans are in place to address the problem, Acuña said he will file on Monday an SP resolution to create a written agreement between the city’s executive department and VMC to ensure that their mitigating plans against the molasses spillage and foul odor surrounding the city proper will be fully executed.

He will also file a resolution to seek the help of the City Legal Office to explore and assert all possible legal remedies and implications regarding the matter.

Acuña said that he will file these resolutions to ensure that the action plans of VMC will be “written in stone and have an assurance that they have their full commitment in writing”.

During the inquiry officials from the Environment Management Bureau revealed that they have already issued a notice of violation to VMC, the councilor said, adding that they will also seek recommendations from the EMB on what actions should be taken.

“VMC has already apologized for the damage but we told them to expedite their actions to lessen the hassle it brought to the people,” he said.

The legislative inquiry was attended by all city councilors together with VMC’s Pollution Control Officer Sandy Angeline Ng, Quality Assurance/Quality Control Officer Ellaine Muhal, and Legal Officer Randolph Angel Tacuyan with the EMB Provincial Environment Management Unit Head Josephine Maguad, City Legal Officer Meddie Arbolado Jr., City department heads, barangay captains Edna Durana (Brgy. I), Eric Alcobilla (Brgy. XIII), Rogelio Lapating Jr. (Brgy. XVI) with Brgy. IX Kagawad Lydia Besa.*

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