Cimatu defends Manila Bay white sand project, says dolomite is safe

Marje Pelayo   •   September 9, 2020   •   1277

MANILA, Philippines — Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu defended the white sand beach project in Manila Bay saying the use of dolomite generally poses no health risk. 

The official acknowledged, however, that what’s hazardous is the fine silica dust that is generated during the crushing of dolomite boulders.

“Ang nakalagay po sa research, kung kina-crush ang dolomite during mining, doon sa source area, kung wala kang mga proteksyon sa [ilong] ay harmful po iyan dahil nandyan po ang small dust particles na silica na kasama sa elements ng dolomite,” Cimatu noted.

(According to research, not wearing protection for your nose when dolomite is being crushed during mining at the source area is harmful because of small dust particles or silica dust which is part of the elements of dolomite.)

Cimatu assured that the size of the dolomite being used in Manila Bay is 100 times bigger than dust.

Dolomite, which has a striking white white color, has also been used in other beach projects in the Visayas since 1996.

Cimatu explained that dolomite helps clean the water and converts it into alkaline which is why it is also being used in aquariums.

“Kailangan rin natin ng medyo mineral na linisin ang tubig kasi nourishment ang kailangan nito. So naghanap kami, pwede ito na gamitin ang dolomite,” he said.

(We also need some mineral to clean the water because it needs nourishment. Upon searching we decided on using dolomite.)

“Tingnan po ninyo sa mga aquarium na bumibili ng aquarium na may mga isda dyan, bato-bato iyan, mga sand. Ang dolomite lilinisin niya ang tubig from acidic magiging alkaline,” he added. 

(Just look at those who buy aquariums, they put fish, pebbles and sand. Dolomite cleans the water and turns it from acidic to alkaline.)

Cimatu also assured that an appropriate technology is being used to keep the sand from being washed away in case of big waves.

Another purpose, Cimatu said, is to prevent further accidents among park goers.

“Pagdaong mo tuloy tubig na kaya ang daming nadidisgrasya katulad nang sinabi kong nalunod. So naglagay po tayo ng parang beach,” the official said.

(When you dock, its straight to the water, hence a lot of people get into accidents and even drown. So, we added a beach.)

According to Cimatu, the DENR has already spent P28 million for the purchase of dolomite from the total budget of P389 million for the Manila Bay beach nourishment project.

The said fund was given by President Rodrigo Duterte from his office’s discretionary fund in 2019 and not part of the DENR’s budget.

In response to critics saying the fund should have been better used for COVID-19 programs, Cimatu said the agency has already shelled out 10% of DENR’s budget similar to other agency’s initiatives to help in the country’s health system.

The DENR clarified that the white sand project does not cover the entire shoreline of Roxas Boulevard but only the part that is near the US Embassy and the Manila Yacht Club. 

Cimatu said the DENR is ready to explain further should the matter be pursued in court. MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

Dolomite not washed out; black sand ‘washed in’ — DENR

Marje Pelayo   •   October 15, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu conducted a surprise inspection of the Manila Bay Beach Nourishment site on Wednesday (October 14).

Accompanied by Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta, Cimatu visited the site following reports that the artificial white sand in the area has been washed away after days of continuous rain.

Peralta himself requested for the visit as part of their mandate of ensuring that the said government project is properly progressing.

The DENR Chief stressed there was no washing off of the dolomite white sand in Manila Bay, contrary to reports circulating on social media.

The agency explained that the natural blank sand deposit in the area covered the white sand by one to three feet thick resulting in the sand turning black.

“Nakita po na puro kasinungalingan iyong lumabas na na-wash out po ang white sand natin (Reports that the white sand has been washed out are all lies),” DENR Undersecretary Benny Antiporda said.

“Ang nangyari talaga is wash in. Ang nangyari po is pumasok iyong itim na buhangin at pumatong sa white dolomite (What really happened was a “wash in”. The black sand washed ashore and covered the white dolomite),” he added.

In September, President Rodrigo Duterte himself lauded the efforts of Cimatu in the full rehabilitation of Manila Bay. 

He expressed high confidence in Cimatu despite criticisms on the use of crushed dolomite boulders to cover the coastline of Manila Bay. MNP (with reports from Joan Nano)

Dolomite sand in Manila Bay not hazardous — DENR

Marje Pelayo   •   October 2, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) and Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) released on Thursday (October 1) the results of the analyses conducted on the dolomite sand samples from the Manila Bay Beach Nourishment Project.

The test was to determine whether they contain heavy metals that are harmful to health and marine life.

The analysis conducted include determination of Iron, Nickel, Lead, and Mercury; grain size; X-Ray diffraction; and pH and specific metals analysis using the Toxicity Characteristic Leaching Procedure.

The results of the analysis were compared to the limits set in DENR Administrative Order No. 2013-22, or the Revised Procedures and Standards for the Management of Hazardous Wastes.

“Basing from the results of the TCLP, none of the values obtained from the sample leachate exceeded the limits stated in the cited DENR AO, and hence the sample is not classified as hazardous,” said EMB OIC-Director Engr. William Cuñado.

“It does not contain mobile forms of the mentioned metal constituents that may leach into the environment under conditions similar to that in a landfill,” he added,

The official added that the pH value is also less than the set limit for pH in the provisions of the same Administrative Order to be classified as hazardous.

Erratum:
An earlier version of the article incorrectly stated that water samples from Manila Bay had been tested and were found not hazardous.

Duterte commends Cimatu for Manila Bay white sand project

Marje Pelayo   •   September 22, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — In his public address Monday evening (September 21), President Rodrigo Duterte lauded the efforts of Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu in the full rehabilitation of Manila Bay. 

The President expressed his high confidence in Cimatu despite criticisms on the use of crushed dolomite boulders to cover the coastline of Manila Bay and the timing of the project amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“I think everybody was there when I said, ‘Roy, kaya mong linisin ‘to (can you clean this up)?’ And his answer was a very curtly given, ‘Kaya kong trabahuhin (I can work on it),'” the President recalled quoting Cimatu.

The President also noted that it is common for the opposition to criticize the government in all of its undertakings and specifically, the President himself.

Wala naman talaga tayong magawa (We really cannot do anything). You do it, may masabi sila (they have something to say). You do not do it, may masabi si Leni (Leni has something to say about it too),” he added, referring to Vice President Leni Robredo who is the leader of the opposition.

“They are trying to delude people.  They are trying to picture that there’s a failure of government. We have done our best,” Duterte stressed. 

He also said the opposition should not be adding to the already heavy burden of the country brought by the pandemic.

Robredo has questioned on multiple occasions, the government’s COVID-19 response and criticized its seeming lack of direction.

Alam mo Leni kung gusto mo (You know Leni, if you want), if you really want to do away with the COVID, i-sprayhan natin itong Pilipinas o Manila ng pesticide galing sa eroplano para patay lahat (let’s spray the whole Philippines or Manila with pesticide from a plane to kill them all) […] Do not add something to the pandemic by making such reckless statements na (that) we are not doing enough,” Duterte said addressing Robredo. MNP (wirh reports from Rosalie Coz)

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