July 17, 2024

Councilor Peter Fianza, during the Baguio City Council’s regular session on Feb. 26, raised a discussion regarding the necessity of constructing a leachate treatment plant (LTP) in Irisan.

The estimated cost for implementing an LTP ranges from P30 million to P35M. The budget for the project is included in the first approved supplemental annual investment program for fiscal year 2024.

Fianza said the Irisan dumpsite had remained inactive since the issuance of a temporary protection order (TEPO) in 2008. He said perhaps the leachate had become inert or is no longer dangerous, questioning the urgency of constructing an LTP.

City Administrator Bonifacio dela Peña, said the leachate had already permeated the site, stressing the urgency to address the issue.

Dela Peña said the project was initially planned to accommodate a septic tank. However, constructing a septic tank therein is not adequate to address the environmental challenges posed by the dumpsite. 

He said there are ongoing consultations with waste management experts to devise effective strategies for managing leachate contamination. 

Dela Peña said the existing infrastructure, including aeration pipes and retaining walls are inadequate for containing and treating leachate effectively. Furthermore, he said it may take years, possibly more than a decade, to remediate the site and restore it to an environmentally acceptable condition.

Fianza urged for a deeper examination into the possible impacts of the leachate that may have seeped into the impacted area.

Through the efforts of the city government, the once problematic area previously occupied by the dumpsite has been transformed into an ecopark. However, despite these efforts, the residual environmental effects of the dumpsite persist. The repercussions continue to manifest, particularly concerning leachate contamination and its potential impact on soil and water quality.

On Aug. 27, 2011, a section of the dumpsite collapsed due to heavy rains from Typhoon Mina, resulting in a trash slide that claimed five lives and buried three houses. In response to this tragedy, the Baguio City Council declared a state of calamity. – Jordan G. Habbiling