MANILA – The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) on Tuesday warned local government units against the improper closure of open dumps in their respective areas of jurisdiction.

In an online presser, Environment Undersecretary Benny Antiporda said the LGUs' responsibility regarding open dumps does not end with simply closing down these facilities.

"They need to conduct safe closure and (rehabilitation) to make sure the dumps won't produce methane gas that may eventually explode," he said.

He said merely covering the dumps with soil is prohibited.

"The LGUs might think if they just close the dumps, they won't be charged anymore and inspected by DENR - they're wrong," he said.

Antiporda, however, said the DENR will give LGUs concerned "ample time" to prepare for and undertake proper closure of their respective open dumps.

Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 200 defines an open dump as a "disposal area wherein the solid wastes are indiscriminately thrown or disposed of without due planning and consideration for environmental and health standards".

"No open dumps shall be established and operated, nor any practice or disposal of solid waste by any person, including LGUs, which constitutes the use of open dumps for solid wastes, be allowed after the effectivity of this Act," the law further said.

RA 9003 mandates that within three years after its effectivity, LGUs nationwide must convert respective open dumps into controlled dumps in accordance with guidelines under this law.

A controlled dump is a "disposal site at which solid waste is deposited in accordance with the minimum prescribed standards of site operation".

However, the law also said "no controlled dumps shall be allowed" five years after its effectivity.

In January, DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu ordered the closure of all open dumps in the country by end of March this year.

He also ordered all regional directors of DENR's Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) to step up respective efforts for achieving such target.

"We (will) shut down open dumps in the country," Antiporda said.

The EMB reported closure of open dumps in various areas of Luzon, the Visayas, and Mindanao.

Among those due for closure are 125 remaining open dumps across the country, it added.

Upon assuming DENR's top post, Cimatu prioritized solid waste management as he observed RA 9003 was neither promptly nor fully implemented despite the country's increasing waste generation.

He also noted that the strict implementation of RA 9003 already resulted in increased closure of open dumps, the establishment of more materials recovery facilities and sanitary landfills, and further development of LGUs' respective 10-year solid waste management plans. (PNA)