Ferdinand Tepait, city health’s division chief for environmental health and sanitation, told SunStar Cebu Tuesday, March 7, 2023, that they will conduct a follow-up inspection as soon as possible in coordination with the City Environment and Natural Resources Office (Cenro).
Tepait said they conducted an inspection about two to three years ago following reports of dust emissions affecting some residents in these barangays.
“During our inspection, outright they stopped unloading their wheat, so the residents no longer complained,” he said.
Tepait said they had no idea when GMC returned its unloading to the same area.
He also said they had no data to show the extent of health damage it brought to the residential areas as claimed by the residents, who said they had experienced respiratory failure or persistent cough or asthma.
“If there is proof scientifically, technically that the emission of smoke from the unloading of wheat from GMC, really affected directly the residents, so that’s the time we can claim the same,” he said, stressing that they will conduct a more aggressive inspection.
“If ever naa tay makit-an nga mang (we see smoke that will) go beyond, then risgo ang atong katawhan (our residents are at risk), then we will be informing the said establishment to correct the same and conduct preventive measures to eliminate and reduce the disposal of this smoke or fumes in the area,” he added.
Tepait assured the residents that the City Health Office is working on their concern, adding that they will coordinate with barangay officials to help them in the monitoring.
Cenro head Dr. Ronaldo Oporto on Monday, March 6, said they already submitted a report to the Environmental Management Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and are awaiting the results of the EMB inspection.
But based on the concerns of the affected residents, Tepait said they may recommend for GMC to put up a higher fence and install appropriate or additional dust collector equipment in the area to prevent dust from entering the houses beside the plant.
He also emphasized that unloading of raw materials should be done away from the households.
He urged the residents to immediately consult the health centers in their respective barangays should they experience cough or asthma.
Several residents living near the coastal area beside the flour and hog manufacturer have reportedly been experiencing persistent cough and itchy skin due to dust.
The residents also complained about the noise from the unloading of raw materials that keeps them awake at night. A resident is also afraid that insects — believed to have come from soya beans or wheat that scatter whenever GMC personnel unload the materials from the boat — will enter their ears.
Residents said two boats arrive alternately at the GMC port every month with a shipment of soya beans or wheat. GMC personnel unload the soya beans or wheat anytime, as long as it’s not raining.
SunStar Cebu has tried to get the side of GMC management on the matter since March 3 but has yet to receive a response.