THE Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has closed an 18,000-square meter sanitary landfill in Urdaneta City, Pangasinan on Friday, after the facility failed to address its violations within the deadline set for it.

In a statement issued over the weekend, the DENR said that its Region 1 Director Maria Dorica Naz-Hipe and local environment officials served the cease-and-desist order (CDO) on the sanitary landfill in Barangay Catablan.

In January, the Urdaneta landfill received two CDOs for violating the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act and the Philippine Clean Water Act. The landfill had until February to improve its facilities by “adding a water treatment facility, siphoning garbage seepage and identifying a new ideal cell, among others,” DENR Solid Waste Management and Local Government Units Concerns Benny D. Antiporda said.

At a follow-up inspection on March 1, the DENR found out that the facility was still not in compliance. “There was no action taken by the local government unit. (Mr.) Antiporda said that the engineered sanitary landfill was given a grace period to correct the necessary violations, but they were not able to do so,” the department said in a statement.

Mr. Antiporda said that although sanitary landfills were “better alternatives to open dumpsites,” this alone did not immediately guarantee a permit to operate.

“With the marching orders of DENR Secretary (Roy A.) Cimatu to close all dumpsites by end of March, the demand for SLFs increased significantly in several areas across the country… We want to send a strong message to all those who take the reminders for granted,” he was quoted as saying.

Open dumps are sites where solid waste is deposited without planning and consideration for the environment and health standards. They are illegal to establish or operate. At present, there are some 169 open dumps that are still operating nationwide. A sanitary landfill is a waste disposal site where possible significant environmental impacts are controlled, according to the environment depart ment. — Angelica Y. Yang