Fund for P2-B waste-to-energy project in Davao City still available

DAVAO CITY – The 5.013-billion yen or P2.052-billion donation of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in 2018 for the construction of a waste-to-energy project in Davao City is still available, First District Councilor Temujin “Tek” Ocampo said.

In an interview, Ocampo said that the local government is just waiting for the National Economic Development Authority to approve the project because it requires a counterpart fund of at least P3.486 billion from the national government.

The local government plans to build a WTE project in a 10-hectare property in Biao Escuela, Tugbok District.

Ocampo said he is hoping that NEDA will approve the WTE project within the year.

He believed the project would push through despite the strong opposition from different environmental advocates in the city.

“I will support the completion of the project because we are already in the implementing stage. The 19th Council approved the project, and it’s now in implementing stage. We are only waiting for updates from NEDA for the budget requirements,” he said.

He said that representatives from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and Department of Energy expressed support for the proposed project when they visited this city in December.

Ocampo said the WTE would generate a capacity of 11 megawatts. Of this total, 30 percent will be utilized to run the facility.

Various groups are wary of the establishment of WTE facility due to its potential hazards to the health of the local residents and Davao’s rich biodiversity, particularly the fragile watersheds.

Environmental advocates pointed out that the wastes generated in the city are 50 percent organic, which cannot be utilized to fuel a WTE technology.

This city generates around 600 to 700 tons of waste daily, according to the City Environment and Natural Resources Office.

Ocampo added that segregation will still be practiced even after the WTE project is established.

He also allayed fears that the project would have detrimental effects on the health of the public and the environment.

Ocampo claimed that studies from countries utilizing the technology have shown that those facilities neither pose health risks nor threaten the environment.

“To be honest with you, the council has already approved the project, and we are now on implementing stage... We are asking the national government to allocate the budget so that we can push through the project,” he said.

Atty. Mark Peñalver, executive director of the Interfacing Development Interventions for Sustainability (IDIS), said that a WTE facility is a “dangerous way” of generating power as it is not a renewable energy source and produces more greenhouse gasses than coal.

He said the incinerator, which emits highly toxic and carcinogenic substance, will affect residents of 20 barangays here – Mintal, Santo Niño, Catalunan Grande, Langub, Waan, Callawa, Riverside, Balengaeng, Tacunan, Biao Guianga, Angalan, Los Amigos, Talandang, New Valencia, New Carmen, Matina Biao, Tagakpan, Ula, Tugbok, and Biao Escuela.

The project site of the proposed WTE facility is located 2.2 kilometers away from Biao Escuela Elementary School, and 550 meters from a relocation site of displaced families in Catalunan Grande, according to Peñalver.