San Carlos Bioenergy Inc. (SCBI) will not be allowed to resume operations until it can assure the city government that its wastewater will not overflow into the sea and affect coastal communities, San Carlos Mayor Renato Gustilo said today, February 22.
Gustilo said he sent a letter to SCBI on February 18 asking it to temporarily cease operations to prevent an overflow of its wastewater, especially with tropical storm “Auring “ approaching. The company ceased operations Friday afternoon, February 19.
The mayor told DIGICAST NEGROS that he visited the SCBI plant today and its pond was still full of blackish wastewater that could overflow into the sea and towards adjacent communities.
“Instead of its resuming operations tomorrow, I will not allow them to do so unless they can adopt measures to prevent the wastewater from overflowing,” he said.
The mayor said he is meeting with SCBI officials tomorrow to discuss the problem.
Gustilo in his letter requesting SCBI to temporarily cease operations said the company has committed several environmental violations, including a series of incidents of water discoloration along the coastal waters of So. Maloloy-on, Brgy. Punao due to its wastewater discharges.
Footage and reports from the City Planning and Development Coordinator’s Office, Bantay Katunggan of the Coastal Resource Management of the City Environment Management Office (CRM-CEMO), Eco-Zone Multi-Partite Monitoring Team (MMT), and City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office were also included as evidence of the violations.
Gustilo in his notice said although specific mitigating measures were undertaken by the SCBI, such initiatives were not enough to cushion the negative impact of the water pollution on residents of San Carlos.
He advised SCBI to temporarily cease operations until they settle the recurring pollution problem or the city government will recommend to the Environment Management Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources
the issuance of a cease-and-desist order.
Arthur Batomalaque, Senior Environment Management Specialist of the City Environment Management Office, in a post on the San Carlos City Facebook page said they have already referred the recurring incidents of water discoloration, foul smell and other environmental issues committed by the SCBI to the Pollution Adjudication Board (PAB) of the DENR for a possible case.
He said only the coastal waters are greatly affected by the effluent from the plant since based on their monitoring local ground water wells remain unsullied.
Melvin Maglayon, a Conservation Fellow of the Fishforever program of the city, said any industrial waste that reaches the sea is very harmful because pollutants can lower dissolved oxygen levels causing fish kill.
Harmful chemicals also affect the fragile coastal ecosystems like mangroves, seagrass beds and coral reefs and most importantly, “it decreases fish catch among fishermen near the area and affects tourism as well if pollutants reach tourist spot like Sipaway Island,” he said.*