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VMC to adopt new molasses tank protocols

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VMC employees and volunteers conducted a clean-up drive in the Malihao River as part of their continuing efforts to help rehabilitate the waterways in Victorias City.*

About six weeks after a molasses tank leak caused air and water pollution in Victorias City, Negros Occidental, the management of Victorias Milling Company (VMC), the country’s biggest refined sugar producer, is working to develop new monitoring protocols and emergency response plans to prevent a similar occurrence.

As of Wednesday, the VMC management had “effectively controlled the adverse effects of the molasses spill on its wastewater treatment facility and resolved the issue of the foul odor,” according to the report of Victorias City Environment and Natural Resources Office (VCENRO).

In a statement, VMC president Linley Retirado said environmental experts assessed and set up additional mitigating measures to ensure that the wastewater treatment facility levels are stabilized.

“(This) eradicated the odor caused by the molasses leak last month,” he added.

The molasses leak on May 5 led to the contamination of the Malihaw River and the emission of a stench from the wastewater treatment pond that affected 11 villages in the city proper.

“The positive impact of this incident is that it has caused VMC to start developing new protocols for molasses tank monitoring and emergency response plan,” Dr. Ramer Bautista, an environmental specialist from the University of the Philippines-Visayas, said in a statement released by the company.

He added that VMC is “now in the course of improving the performance” of its wastewater treatment plant to “consistently comply with the effluent standards of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and to accommodate and treat sudden increases in organic load.”

The VMC said it has requested the Sugar Regulatory Administration, as a third-party monitoring agency, to validate and assess the findings of the recent tests conducted in the areas of Daan Banwa and Barangay 9, and along the Avery Bridge, that “showed ambient water quality levels in the river have stabilized.”

Retirado said they have also mobilized employees and volunteers for the waterways clean-up drive as part of the continuing efforts to rehabilitate the Malihaw River.

The VCENRO further reported that a visit to Barangay 13 adjacent to the sugar mill on June 14 confirmed “minimal to no foul odor experienced by their community,” since the previous week.*PNA

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