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Sillimanians urge Dumaguete trash incinerator shut down

by Nathaniel Carampatana | February 9, 2023

Several Sillimanians protested Saturday to shut down the pyrolysis-gasification machine in Barangay Candau-ay, Dumaguete City, that incinerates the city’s trash and releases toxic gases.

One of the protest organizers and co-convener of War on Waste-Negros Oriental, Merci Ferrer, said that Dumagueteños were not consulted or informed that the incinerator “would kill them eventually.”

“The deadline is today or tomorrow. I hope a beautiful light will shine on Mayor Ipe Remollo, to the administration, enabling them to see the correct way of addressing this issue,” she said.

The local government aimed for the machine to convert wastes into solid materials for infrastructure projects like hollow blocks. However, environmentalists and protestors warned against its damaging impact on public health.

During the protest, Dr. Jorge Emmanuel, an expert on pyrolysis-gasification technology, revealed that pyrolysis releases toxic gases that “will stay in the environment for hundreds of years.”

He said that it could cause an increased risk of miscarriages and delivery defects, reduced fertility and sperm count for males, and different types of cancers.

During the protest at Rizal Boulevard, protestors lined up on the roadside holding biodegradable signs, others gave out primers, and organizers spoke up about the dangers of pyrolysis to the passersby.

Mayumi Maghuyop, a protester from the College of Performing and Visual Arts, said that she joined the rally because “we should be saying more about the things that we care about, especially the environment…[because] it’s going to affect a lot of people, not just us.”

Grylle Adrian Malala, a Silliman University (SU) senior high school student, also said he protested “to support and [to] defend our right to breathe properly.”

Instead of incinerating all the city’s trash, the protest called for the local government to transition towards a zero-waste and sustainable circular economy.

Dignity Lagunay, Silliman University Student Government (SUSG) Environment Committee Chairperson, explained that establishing a sustainable circular economy includes waste decentralization, emphasizing the “No Segregation, No Collection” policy.

The policy enables at least 50 percent of trash to be diminished by composting biodegradable material. Through recycling, at least 25 percent of recyclable trash is removed.

“So now we’re left with ten to 15 percent of residual waste. This is the part where the intervention takes place,” he said.

Ferrer thanked the SUSG Environment Committee for mobilizing Sillimanians to join the protest.

“But I would also like to call on the SU Administration, the SU Medical Center, and all other sectors of the SU, Foundation University, Saint Paul University, NORSU [Negros Oriental State University], all the high schools—public and private, even elementary schools, to come and join us,” she said.

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