I am happy to announce that we are one step closer to cleaning up the Marilao, Meycauyan and Obando (MMO) river system in the Philippines, one of the world’s worst polluted rivers, with a projected $50 million grant from the World Bank.
The source of water for hundreds of thousands of people, the MMO river system is also where numerous industries dump their untreated wastewater. Carcinogenic hexavalent chromium, lead, and human sewage are just a few components of this toxic stew.
Over the past few years, Blacksmith has been working to scope the extent of pollution in the MMO and design a suitable response in order to gather support and funding for the cleanup. Now, with grant pending, we are ready to move.
This March, a team of pollution experts from Blacksmith’s Technical Advisory Board will head to the Philippines to begin putting a multistep process in place that will involve:
- installing anti-pollution booms to treat the infiltration of heavy metals into fish ponds
- treating chromium pollution from tanneries
- new technologies for lead polluting goldsmiths
- dredging of acute contaminated hotspots along the river banks
- searching for a suitable site to locate a low-level hazardous waste landfill
- working with the local EPA
Success in this cleanup is crucial, not only because of the scope of the pollution, but also because it will allow us to expand our efforts to other contaminated areas of Manila. The point is to maximize the impact of the grant to do the most good, not only in the area we are currently cleaning up, but also in the next polluted hotspot we reach.