Abandoned mines eyed as trash dumps

The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines -   Samar Rep. Edgar Sarmiento urged the government yesterday to convert abandoned open-pit mines into garbage dumps or sanitary landfills.

He said he has personally brought his proposal up to newly appointed Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu who agreed it could actually help solve the government’s problem on the hazards posed by abandoned mines in the mountains and the unavailability of solid waste disposal facilities.

He said Cimatu has promised to conduct a thorough inventory of these mines to find out which of them are viable for conversion to sanitary landfills.

He said his proposal will not only help in solving the country’s garbage disposal problem but would also allow these abandoned open-pit mines to be filled, rehabilitated and turned into forests once again.

He added that abandoned mines pose danger to surrounding communities due to possible landslides and flash floods. 

“These abandoned open-pit mines need to be filled back to allow rehabilitation, and the most practical and most economical method of doing this is to turn them into garbage dumps,” Sarmiento stressed.

He noted that with the advent of latest advances in garbage disposal solutions, sanitary landfills could be managed to ensure that they will not disturb surrounding communities.

He said mines that will be turned into garbage dumps could also double as a viable source of methane and other renewable energy sources.

He pointed out that with the banning of the use of incinerators for garbage disposal, sanitary landfills and open-pit garbage dumps still remain as the only method of managing the country’s solid waste, which amounts to more than 10,000 million tons per year.

Sarmiento cited the case of the open-pit mine in Toledo City which can be a potential site for a sanitary landfill serving nearby towns and cities in Cebu. 

“It would be very expensive to fill them up with rocks and soil if these open pit mines are closed down. We would have to have to excavate these materials just to fill up these gaping holes, so why not used our garbage instead,” he said. 

Before her appointment was rejected by the Commission on Appointments, former environment secretary Regina Lopez visited several abandoned mines, including one in Zambales.

The Zambales open-pit mine has become a lake, which residents feared could cave in anytime and cause flooding. 


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