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OFFICIALS and residents of barangay Kalunasan, Cebu City, yesterday expressed worry over City Hall’s plan to establish a sanitary landfill in a 15-hectare valley in the barangay as it might contaminate local water sources and damage infrastructure.

Kalunasan barangay councilor Oliver Ocampo said 80 percent of the residents in Sitio Upper Kalunasan are dependent on the spring water from the barangay’s mountains. Residents fear that the water, which they use for washing and bathing, may get contaminated.

But Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña assured that the landfill, once operational, would not present health risks. He said the proposed location for the landfill is in a valley at the end of the Guadalupe River and will be sealed to prevent leachate from entering the river or underground water.

But health risks are not the barangay’s only concerns.Ocampo said residents were also worried that the operation of garbage trucks in the barangay would destroy roads and footbridges. Ocampo said there were several footbridges in the barangay that span the Guadalupe River. Residents worried that these footbridges may be dismantled if Osmeña would develop roads along the river for the garbage trucks, preventing residents from safely crossing the river.

Ocampo said Osmeña should conduct a public hearing so that residents would know the exact details of the landfill plan. Barangay officials may also conduct an inspection of the proposed site to address residents’ concerns.

“From day until night, it’s all the residents had been talking about. They’re really worried,” Ocampo said. Osmeña assured that consultations and studies would be done in due time. He said he just came up with the idea for a new landfill last week, and nothing was certain about the project at this time. “I don’t have to consult the people every time I think of something,” the mayor said. “All these consultations will be done once the study is done.”

He reiterated that the new landfill would take time. He estimated that the project would gain steam after his term as mayor ends in 2010. “In theory, it looks nice. But we still have to study it before we make a move,” Osmeña said. But Juvy Lopez, a resident of barangay Kalunasan, said she would feel better if officials told them how their concerns would be addressed, such as possible water contamination.

Baby Tabar, also a resident of the barangay, said she heard of the mayor’s assurances of their safety, but since the project may start after the end of the mayor’s term, the mayor’s assurances may not be implemented.