Representatives from the Environmental Management Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources Region 6, headed by Engineer Paul Wellen Orosio, inspected the holding ponds, creeks, coastline, and wastewater coming from the bioethanol plant of San Carlos Bioenergy Inc. in the city yesterday.
Orosio said that Mayor Renato Gustilo requested to have the situation investigated by the DENR and to confirm reports if, indeed, effluent from the bioethanol plant already reached Tañon Strait, a press release from the city said.
He added that they will make the initial assessment based on their field inspection, wait for the analysis of the samples taken from the bodies of water to know where the discoloration started and ended, and submit it to the regional office for adjudication.
Other than Orosio, the team composed of engineers Cristina Ruth Desuyo and Geremae Magbanua also took pictures and saw that liquid wastes stored at the plant’s holding ponds were almost overflowing that SCBI has barricaded the walls with sandbags and tires to prevent it from collapsing into the roadside of Route 7 national highway.
Gustilo earlier said that he will not allow SCBI to resume operations until it settles the environmental issues. “I have a moral obligation towards the people of San Carlos, to protect their welfare and also the environment,” he added.
Engineer Arthur Batomalaque, senior environment management specialist of the City Environment Management Office, said that years ago, the SCBI was already penalized by the DENR for the violations they referred to the Pollution Adjudication Board (PAB), including recurring water discolorations, foul smell, and other environmental issues. The SCBI is the first regenerative combined cycle power plant in Asia using sugarcane, and produces 42 million liters of bioethanol per annum and eight megawatt of electricity. Its operation started in 2008 and was halted since Feb. 19 on orders of Gustilo after its effluent spilled again to certain waterways of the city going to the coastline and into the open sea.*