Capitol concerned over emissions at cement plant

Lorraine Ecarma (The Freeman) – September 21, 2019 – 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines —  Following reports of haze from the forest fires in Indonesia reaching Cebu, Governor Gwendolyn Garcia said yesterday the province is looking into the unexplained spikes in chemical emissions at a cement plant in Naga City.

“I don’t know which would do more harm – ang forest fire nga tua sa faraway Indonesia or mismo ang high levels of SO2 and CO emissions, as well as the proliferation of cement dust mixing with the air because of possible bagging methods which need corrections?” Garcia said.

The province reportedly expressed concern over the air quality here even before news of haze reaching here broke out.

“That is precisely why we also look closely at the air quality in areas where you have cement plants,” Garcia said.

She disclosed that she has sat down with representatives of the cement company and the Environmental Management Board to discuss the problem of dust-accumulation at the highway in front of the factory.

“Exactly to what toxic levels did this reach? What are the acceptable levels and have these levels been breached?” Garcia said.

The company reportedly assured her that it does online monitoring of its plant’s emission, the results of which were sent directly to the EMB.

It was from copies of the results sent to EMB that Garcia saw suspicious spikes in the levels of chemicals in the air, including the sudden increase in sulfur dioxide content at the 24th hour of each day, as reported by the company.

This is after all 23 hours report zero emissions of sulfur dioxide.

Another point of concern Garcia raised was on a report from a day in August where carbon monoxide levels surpassed the allowed count of 500. This increase reportedly lasted for over nine hours.

“What is the protocol? Is it not immediate nga corrective measures? I believe that is the case,” Garcia said.

“Obviously wa gyu’y immediate remedial measures kay nagsige man ug saka at a time nga nangatog ang mga tawo (Obviously, there were no immediate remedial measures because it kept on going up when the people are asleep),” she added, referring to the carbon monoxide levels.

She said she has met with the company’s representatives the previous month and they have reportedly agreed to stop operations during peak hours of day so as to avoid traffic buildup at the highway.

Garcia said she will  sit down with them again next to hear what measures the company plans to undertake to mitigate the effects of the chemical emissions and dust accumulation. —   JMO (FREEMAN)



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