Hermosa LGU shuts down Bataan sanitary landfill for environmental violations

Mayor Jopet Inton personally serves closure order

Randy V. Datu

Published: 11:51 AM February 21, 2020

Updated: 12:09 PM February 21, 2020

CLOSED. Hermosa Mayor Jopet Inton leads a team which closes down the Hermosa Sanitary Landfill. Photo by Mhike Cigaral

HERMOSA, Bataan – Hermosa Mayor Jopet Inton Thursday, February 20, personally served the cease and desist order from the local government ordering the temporary stoppage of operation of the Hermosa Sanitary Landfill Facility (Hermosa SLF) operated by Econest Waste Management Facility.

"This is in view of the investigation being conducted by the EMB DENR dahil sa kanilang violations ng (because of their) environmental laws," Mayor Inton told local newsmen who covered the event.

The mayor was joined by the Hermosa police led by Major Jeffrey Onde, Hermosa chief marshal Jason Enriquez, provincial legal counsels, MENRO Orly Balean, barangay officials and Councilor Luz J. Samaniego. Inton personally locked the gate of the landfill with a huge tarpaulin streamer with a notice to the public that says "Temporarily Closed" in bold red-colored letters.

Beulah Coeli Fiel, CEO and president of Econest WMC, said the mayor's closure was arbitrary and mere "harassment and oppression."

She said her company was scheduled to reply to and appear before EMB-DENR on Monday, February 24. But without warning, the Inton implemented the closure. (READ: Hermosa landfill operator says only EMB can impose environmental laws)

Recently, the Hermosa LGU and the EMB-DENR issued separate notices of violations to Econest WMC citing its operation "without a valid Discharge Permit and Hazardous Waste Generator Registration Certificate, some of its treatment units on their leachate treatment facilities have no protective lining which may cause groundwater contamination due to leachate seepage."

Mayor Inton said they are closely monitoring a portion of the 7-hectare landfill. They plan to dig the said area after receiving a report from Udenna Environmental Services Incorporated (UdESI) that toxic chemicals were buried in the area.

UdeESI is a liquid waste treatment facility located across the Hermosa SLF.

"Kausap ko na yung Udenna inamin na nila sa akin na may mga ibinaong mga kemikal ang Econest sa area na yan," Inton said.

(I have talked with Udenna and they said that  Econest buried chemicals in the area.)

The UdESI waste treatment facility was also ordered closed by Inton last December 2019 due to some environmental issues.

UdESI is owned by businessman Dennis Uy, one of President Duterte's major financiers during the 2016 presidential elections, 

Inton also said that Econest WMC failed to remit what is due to the Hermosa LGU from the profits of the company's business operations in accepting other LGUs' wastes.

In a press conference held in Balanga City on Wednesday, February 19,  the president of Econest WMC, denied the allegations of the Hermosa mayor.  She said: "Only the EMB-DENR can impose environmental laws and will only turn it over to the municipality subject to the recovery of our investments."

Reacting to Fiel's statement, the Mayor said,"Dahil hindi naman natin pwedeng payagan na patuloy nilang dinudumihan ang ating kapaligiran. malinaw ang kanilang violations base sa findings ng EMB DENR, at kung anuman ang kanilang diversionary tactics eh bahala na sila doon."

(Because we cannot allow them to continuously harm our environment. Their violations are clear, according to the EMB-DENR. And it is up to them if they continue with their diversionary tactics.)

Other sources from the municipality said the town has secured a temporary waste disposal area being operated by another private company.

In a statement sent by Econest WMC, Fiel said the company has not committed any violation or gross negligence in the management of the Hermosa sanitary landfill facility.

She said they had up to Monday, to appear before the EMB and submit a reply. But on Thursday, "... Mayor Jopet Inton, together with a battalion of municipal marshals and members of the media, swooped in to serve a temporary stoppage for new allegations that were never brought to our attention previously."

Fiel said:  "We never accepted hazardous wastes. The biomedical waste that were disposed of at the landfill were all treated by a TSD facility and we have certificates of treatment to prove that they were."

She added that these were new accusations, and that the LGU never got their side on the matter. – Rappler.com