Ain’t dust in the wind: Año says Manila Bay white sand safe


Interior Secretary Eduardo Año on Tuesday allayed fears on the supposed health risks caused by the crushed dolomite that is being poured on the shores of Manila Bay as part of its rehabilitation.

“We have a discussion last night at the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases about it and (Environment) Secretary (Roy) Cimatu presented the side of the DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources). He emphasized that these are actually a finished product. The dolomites that are harmful are those dolomites during the crushing,” Año said in a TV interview.

Citing the presentation of Cimatu, Año said the dolomite sand being laid at the Manila Bay is no longer harmful because they are “three or four times” the size of the sand and cannot be blown by the wind.

This came after various sectors raised concerns over the environmental and health risks of the project.

Año said if the Department of Health (DOH) could prove the health risk of the dolomite to the health of the people, the government would stop the project.

“Kung mapo-prove nila na harmful ito at kung talagang maging harmful pa talaga yan [If they can prove that this is harmful], we can put a stop,” Año stressed. “The harmful dolomite are those particles during the crushing of the boulders. Nandoon ‘yung danger (The danger is there).”

Año said there will be “more discussions” on the matter.

“But based on what we have learned, it is not really harmful. But I leave it to the experts and we’ll have more discussions on this,” he added.

Earlier, DENR Undersecretary Benny Antiporda said the crushed dolomite boulders came from Cebu and were already crushed before bringing them to Manila.

Antiporda said the sand would be overlaid on the beach area of Manila Bay, which is famed worldwide for its beautiful sunset.

Antiporda said the department and the Manila Bay Task Force are on Phase 1 of the Manila Bay beach nourishment project.

The overlaying of sand, he said, would be completed before September 19 when heads of various government agencies, led by Año, Cimatu and Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat would visit and inspect the area.

Some groups are questioning the overlaying of sand on Manila Bay’s shores, saying the project is focusing on aesthetics and little contribution to rehabilitation and restoration.

On Monday, Malacañang defended the project claiming it will prevent soil erosion and flooding.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said aside from being a beautification project, it would also help address risk and disaster problems.

He added that this could boost the public’s mental health in the middle of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic. (PNA)