Philippines (Marilao) – Industrial Waste Contamination

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the details…
Key pollutant
Arsenic, Lead, Cadmium, Chromium
Source
Tannery operations, pharmaceuticals, lead smelting, battery recycling
Pathway

waterborne

Population affected
250,000
Children Under 6 Affected
50,000
DALYs averted
23,833
Industry
Multiple industries along the Marilao River Basin
Date started
2005
Cost of project
$300,000
Funders
Asian Development Bank
Project Partners
  • MMO Water Quality Management Board
  • DENR-Environoment Office
  • Meycauayan Environment Office
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Summary

The Marilao, Meycauyan and Obando river system is home to hundreds of thousands of people and numerous industries, most of which drain their wastewater untreated into the river. Carcinogenic hexavalent chromium, lead, and human sewage are just a few components of this toxic stew, which the local population relies on as a source of domestic and agricultural water. With support from Blacksmith Institute, a multi-stakeholder group was formed with representatives from local NGOs, government, academia, and industry to determine the extent of pollution. This group has been very successful in catalyzing improvements and became the basis for a formal River Basin advisory board.

The problem

Significant industrial waste is haphazardly dumped into the Meycauayan River, a source of domestic and agricultural water for 250,000 people living in and around Manila. Substantial contamination comes from small scale lead recycling facilities along the river at Marilao, and from the many tanneries that dump untreated hexavalent chromium into the river. This river also feeds directly into the Manila Bay, and its effluents contaminate shellfish in commercial fishing areas.

Current Activity

Blacksmith is currently creating a coordinating body to oversee the control and clean up of this river. This body will include senior representatives of the Philippines federal government, the Asian Development Bank, the local municipality, industry representatives and local community groups. They will together design and implement remediation efforts over the next several years.

Outcome

The Marilao, Meycauyan and Obando river system is home to hundreds of thousands of people and numerous industries, most of which pump their wastewater untreated into the river. Carcinogenic hexavalent chromium, lead, and human sewage are just a few components of this toxic stew, which the local population relies on as a source of domestic and agricultural water. With support from Blacksmith Institute, a multi-stakeholder group with representatives from local NGOs, government, academia, and industry has been formed to scope the extent of pollution, and design of suitable responses is well under way.