Benguet officials wary of impending trash slide

Northern Dispatch

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet — The chief executive of Benguet is wary of a possible trash slide at the Alno garbage dump after the municipal engineering office reported that the safety of the facility is now compromised.

Engineer Benedict Pineda said the retaining wall of the functioning garbage dump facility in Alno shows signs of overloading. “We can no longer guarantee the safety of the Alno dump. There are already cracks on its retaining wall, a sign of overburden,” he said.

Pineda said the load of Alno dump must immediately be reduced to avoid a possible trash slide like that of the Irisan dump site in Baguio City in 2011. The Irisan dump’s retaining wall collapsed during the onslaught of typhoon Mina in 2011 that claimed six lives, buried some houses and polluted the Kagaling River.

“A trash slide is quite possible. Assuming that the retaining wall will hold but the accumulated trash in the dump may still slide because it is already too high,” Pineda said. He added, “The level of the garbage should not exceed the height of the retaining wall. Should it exceed, the excess should be at the maximum one third of the height of the wall. But right now the excess is twice the height of the retaining wall.”

Pineda said the retaining wall is 3.5 meters high and the excess garbage is around six meters high. He said there are only two possible actions to mitigate the problem: to retrofit or reinforce the retaining wall and to stop dumping of garbage at the facility.

Local municipal officials see hauling the garbage out of the town as the immediate solution to the problem given that there is no other garbage facility ready to accommodate the town’s garbage.

Mayor Edna Tabanda said the municipal council already passed a resolution allocating P4 million for the hauling of garbage out of the town on Tuesday. She said while there has been no formal announcement yet for the start of the bidding process for private garbage haulers, two companies have already expressed their interest.

“We need to fast track the bidding process. We need to act immediately on urgent matters like this,” she said.

Tabanda said the municipal government will revisit the implementation of garbage segregation at the household level. She said this will lessen the garbage volume to be dumped at the Alno facility.

Municipal engineering data showed that the town produces a total of 93 tons of mixed garbage; 43 tons of this are either uncollected or collected by trash pickers and the 50 tons goes to the Alno dump.

She added that they are also looking at other technologies to address garbage disposal. “We will not limit ourselves with one technology. We will welcome other garbage disposal technologies,” she said.
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