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Virac Landfill Study Flawed, Critics Say - CT

The P1.5-million feasibility study made by Woodfields Consultant, Inc. is so riddled with flaws and wrong assumptions that the Virac municipal government should seriously reconsider its decision to secure a P75-million loan for a sanitary landfill as recommended by the consultant.

This was pointed out by critics of the proposed Sangguniang Bayan resolution that would grant Mayor Santos V. Zafe the power to negotiate the loan with the three financial institutions which tendered offers recently. Among the critics are Councilor Lemuel Surtida, DPWH assistant district engineer Gil Balmadrid, barangay officials and school principals who called on the municipality to re-evaluate the Woodfields study and defer the loan until after the 2010 elections.

The title of the study alone, which refers to the conversion of the existing open dumpsite, is in conflict with the content which considers the proposed project a new landfill. This has raised concerns that Woodfields simply lifted the contents from another, similar study to comply with its obligation to the LGU. The study does not even mention what would be done with the underlying waste that had been dumped in previous years, they added.

The critics noted that for a P1.5 million study, it is strange that the researcher, who got the figures in only seven days, classified the site as "idle" land when official documents label it as a dumpsite. In the consideration of the garbage to be delivered to the proposed landfill, the study considered it as mixed waste, not residual waste in accordance with appropriate landfill standards. Thus, the expected 8 tons per day garbage delivery from Bato and San Andres towns is grossly over-estimated, leading to rosy projections of P540,000 monthly income from tipping fees, not including hauling cost, to be paid by the said LGUs.

The study, they said, does not say anything about the municipality implementing one of the key provisions of Republic Act 9003 – mandatory waste segregation at source – which should leave the LGU with only 5% residual waste that should be disposed of at the landfill. The consultant’s proposal that the garbage should be segregated at the landfill is in violation of the law, opponents stressed.

There are likewise material inconsistencies in the data cited by Woodfields, including the estimated tipping fee of P3,600 per ton, which is overpriced compared to the existing fee of less than US$20 per ton (P1,000) in Metro Manila. If implemented, commercial establishments and households in Virac would pay for the tipping fee on a 70-30 sharing as the study considers the LGU to pay the fee for the garbage it would dispose of in its own landfill.

Woodfields estimates that the project will earn an average net income of P27,107,000 from the initial tipping fee of P3,600 per ton from the first year, with the net cash flow increasing 384 times from P237,000.00 on the first year to P90,881,000.00 on the 8th year.

The possibility that the cash-strapped towns of San Andres and Bato would pay for the privilege of bringing their garbage to Virac is also far-fetched, opponents said. Based on Woodfields’ calculation, Bato will have to cough up P10,800 per day or P324,000 a month for the three (3) tons per day garbage volume while San Andres will pay P18,000 per day or P540,000 a month for the same service. The consultant has suggested that Virac execute memoranda of agreement with the two towns to ensure a minimum guaranteed volume of delivered garbage to realize projected profits. These optimistic projections, they added, flies in the face of the reality that both towns have their own dumpsites and would not likely agree to spend for the hauling of garbage to Virac, much less pay for the privilege.

It was likewise highlighted that detailed engineering design of the landfill project as well as environmental, geotechnical and hydrogeological surveys have yet to be done while even the Sangguniang Bayan has yet to see plans and specifications for the project.

Source: Catanduanes Tribune - 17 October 2009

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