Mayor Javier Miguel Benitez of Victorias City called for an emergency meeting, yesterday, May 22, to address the concerns arising from a molasses spillage coming from Victorias Milling Company (VMC), which has resulted in a pervasive rancid odor spreading throughout the city.
According to Eric Alcobilla, Punong Barangay of Barangay XIII, their barangay experiences the strongest odor due to its proximity to VMC’s wastewater treatment facility.
He stated that the smell intensifies during the off-season and suggested that the foul odor may not only be caused by the molasses spillage but also by leaks in the wastewater treatment facility, which subsequently affect the rivers surrounding the city.
But during the meeting, VMC disclosed that they adhere to standard parameters for treatment, however, these standards have proven insufficient in eliminating the impurities from the wastewater treatment facility. The meeting also revealed that the aerator used by VMC actually exacerbates the odor issue.
Before the meeting, Lara Ann Garcia, the Officer-in-Charge of the Victorias City Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO), along with Engr. Ron Armel Sarito, conducted a site assessment at the Victorias Milling Company (VMC), where the spillage occurred.
VMC also clarified that they have never disposed of any substances directly into rivers. They are currently applying enzymes and a lining to combat the odor, which has been affecting the majority of residents in Victorias.
Engr. Sarito explained that the enzymes aid in faster decomposition of the wastewater, reducing the foul odor and eliminating harmful bacteria. Additionally, the lining is being used to adjust the pH level of the wastewater to the ideal range of 6.5-7, ensuring complete elimination of the unpleasant smell.
CENRO has requested a report from VMC regarding the standards of their wastewater treatment facility, the solution implemented after the spillage, and an action plan or schedule in case the current solution proves ineffective.
CENRO has requested VMC to submit a report by Wednesday, as per their request.
Benitez has directed the Task Force to ensure the proper execution of their responsibilities outlined in Executive Orders Nos. 27 and 28 (s. 2023), which establish the City’s Water Management Quality Unit and create the Task Force on Water-Related Disasters, respectively.