Thursday, September 28, 2023

SU environmentalists protest to shut down Dumaguete trash incinerator 

by Ranjie Mae Nocete & Nathaniel Carampatana | February 9, 2023

Several Sillimanians protested Saturday to shut down the pyrolysis-gasification machine in Barangay Candau-ay 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 “will kill them eventually.”

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, former Technical Adviser for the United Nations Development Program and expert on pyrolysis-gasification technology Dr. Jorge Emmanuel 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 birth defects, reduced fertility and sperm count for males, and different types of cancers.

Pushing to shut down the machine, Ferrer said, “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. 

During the protest held on 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. 

One Sillimanian protestor, Mayumi Maghuyop of 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.”

A senior high school student also expressed that she went to the protest “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. 

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

The said policy enables at least 50 percent of trash to be diminished from the total 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 Silliman University Student Government Environment Committee for mobilizing Sillimanians to join the protest.

“But I would also like to call on the Silliman University Administration, the Silliman University Medical Center, and all other sectors of the Silliman University, 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 added. 


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