The Department of Environment and Natural Resources ( DENR) claims that the “white sand” being poured to create a beach on a stretch of the rocky shore of Manila Bay does not damage the ecology of the bay, but independent security studies from international contractors point out that dolomite — the rock powdered to manufacture the fake white sand — can cause respiratory disturbances and is possible cancer.
The Maritime affairs expert and law professor at the University of the Philippines, Jay Batongbacal, said that US contractors’ reports on the possible harm the dolomite being poured on a 500-meter stretch of Manila Bay’s shore could be grounded in filing a petition for a kalikasan letter, a legal remedy to halt projects that could damage the environment.
Texas distributor and builder Lehigh Hanson Inc. cautioned in its 2012 safety data report that dolomite can cause skin and eye irritation, as well as cancer and lung damage by prolonged or sustained exposure. In its own safety data report submitted in 2018, another firm, Lhoist North America, cautioned that dolomite contains crystalline silica, identified as a possible carcinogen when inhaled by humans.
If real, Batongbacal stated that it is possible for DENR project opponents to obtain a writ of kalikasan and injunction against the project from the courts, given the potential harm of dumping tons of potentially toxic particulates in a densely populated area.
It is part of the P397.9-million Manila Bay rehabilitation program initiated in January of last year by Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu and is scheduled to be completed by Sept. 19. Taken from Cebu The dolomite was reportedly from Cebu, alarming local officials who also protested that it had been taken from their province without their knowledge, much less to the locality where it had been extracted.
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