Bio-ethanol plant in San Carlos City ordered closed for environmental harm

PHOTO CAPTION: Following reports of a host of environmental violations, including the illegal discharge of wastewater, and an on-site inspection by San Carlos City mayor Emerson Lachica, the San Carlos Bioenergy, Inc., plant has been ordered temporarily closed pending resolution of all the issues against it./iNEWS (Photo: San Carlos City PIO)

BACOLOD CITY–San Carlos City Mayor Renato Gustilo ordered the temporary closure of the San Carlos Bioenergy, Inc., over violations of environmental laws.

In a letter dated Feb. 18, Gustilo said the SCBI caused the water discoloration along the coastal waters of Sitio Maloloy-on, Brgy. Punao, due to its wastewater discharges.

The company ceased its operation on the afternoon of Feb. 19, 2021.

The violations were supported by video footage and reports from the City Planning and Development Coordinator’s Office, Bantay Katunggan of the Coastal Resource Management of the City Environment Management Office (CRM-CEMO), Eco-Zone Multi-Partite Monitoring Team (MMT), and the City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office.

While the company implemented mitigating measures, the mayor said, “These initiatives are not enough to cushion the negative impact of the water pollution on the constituents of San Carlos City.”

Gustilo personally inspected the plant site on Monday and, after seeing that its pond was still full of blackish wastewater, directed the SCBI to temporarily cease its operation until they resolve the recurring issues.

The bio-ethanol plant is located in Sitio Maloloy-on, Brgy. Punao, San Carlos City, Negros Occidental./iNEWS (Photo: San Carlos City PIO)
San Carlos City Mayor Renato Gustilo (middle) inspected the surrounding area of the plant before ordering for its temporary closure./iNEWS (Photo: San Carlos City PIO)

The city government will recommend to the Environment Management Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (EMB-DENR) the issuance of a cease-and-desist order against SCBI if the problem persists, he added.

Engr. Arthur Batomalaque, Senior Environment Management Specialist of CEMO, said that they have already referred the reported incidents of water discoloration, foul smell, and other environmental violations committed by the SCBI to the Pollution Adjudication Board (PAB) of the DENR.

However, Batomalaque noted that only the coastal waters are greatly affected by the waste from the plant.

“Based on the continuous monitoring of the MMT eco-zone locators, including testing at accredited labs, the local groundwater wells were found to be unsullied,” he stated.

As this developed, it was learned that SCBI representatives have scheduled a meeting with the city mayor.

Melvin Maglayon, CRM-CEMO and Conservation Fellow of the Fishforever program of the city, said any industrial waste that reaches the sea is very harmful because pollutants can lower dissolved oxygen levels, causing fish kill.

Maglayon said that harmful chemicals also affect fragile coastal ecosystems like mangroves, seagrass beds, and coral reefs.

“It decreases fish catch among fishermen near the area and might affect tourism as well if pollutants reach tourist spots like Sipaway Island,” he explained./(Eugene Y. Adiong/iNEWS-Bacolod/Negros Bureau)

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