BACOLOD CITY – The San Carlos Bioenergy Inc. (SCBI) based in San Carlos City, Negros Occidental has suspended its operation upon the order of Mayor Renato Gustilo amid the recurring pollution issues faced by the bioethanol producer.
In a statement posted on Facebook on Monday, Gustilo said the plant ceased operation on Friday afternoon after he sent a letter to its management dated Feb. 18 informing the company on reports of its environmental violations.
He said the series of incidents of water discoloration along the coastal waters of Sitio Maloloy-on in Barangay Punao are caused by wastewater discharges of the plant.
Gustilo also cited as evidence the footages 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, and City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office.
Although specific mitigating measures were undertaken by the SCBI, such initiatives were not enough to cushion the negative impact of the water pollution to the people of San Carlos, he added.
Gustilo thus strongly advised the SCBI management to temporarily cease operation until they are able to settle the recurring pollution issues.
Otherwise, the city government will recommend to the Environmental Management Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources the issuance of a cease-and-desist order for the plant, Gustilo said.
Arthur Batomalaque, the city’s senior environment management specialist, said they have referred the recurring incidents of water discoloration, foul smell, and other environment issues committed by the SCBI to the Pollution Adjudication Board for a possible case as the firm was already penalized for such violations.
Although local groundwater wells remain unsullied, coastal waters have been greatly affected by the effluent from the plant, he added.
Melvin Maglayon of the CEMO’s Coastal Resource Management said any industrial waste that reaches the sea is harmful because pollutants can lower dissolved oxygen levels causing fishkill.
SCBI is a subsidiary of integrated sugar company Roxas Holdings Inc. (PNA)