Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu has defended at the House of Representatives the use of dolomite white sand from Cebu’s crushed dolomite rocks to transform Manila Bay’s shoreline into a white-sand beach.
He told legislators late Tuesday that the use of crushed dolomite would not pose any hazards, and that dolomite had undergone a technical study negating the health risks on its use.
“We are really very sure of the safety of the use of dolomite in that area,” Cimatu said during the budget briefing following the previous warnings from the Department of Health over dolomite’s possible health hazards.
“Dolomite in its natural state is not a known health hazard,” Cimatu said. He said Manila Bay’s beautification project was the result of the mandamus issued by the Supreme Court for the government to clean up the area.
He said there had been no complaints from several private establishments and resorts using dolomite.
“The public beach using dolomite is in Dalaguete, Cebu, and for the last six years no issues or complaints had been raised there,” Cimatu said.
“So I stand by this research coming from our Bureau of Mines and Geosciences. It is not listed by the Mines Safety and Health Association.
“What is hazardous is the fine silica quartz in some dolomite in the form of dust that is generated during crushing and screening, not the calcium or magnesium [components].”
Cimatu says the dolomite beach for the artificial rehabilitation of Manila Bay will be 100 meters wide and 60 meters deep once finished.
He says the size of the dolomite sand, which has a striking white color being used for the beach nourishment project in Manila Bay, “is two to five millimeters or equivalent to 2,000 to 5,000 microns or 100 times bigger than dust, and therefore not suspended in air and cannot be inhaled.”
Cimatu also said the P389 million in funds came from a special-purpose fund under the P4.1-trillion 2019 General Appropriations Act for the rehabilitation of Manila Bay.
He said the decision to use dolomite underwent a technical study by his department, adding the project was covered by a broader Manila Bay rehabilitation project that was begun with an extensive cleanup last year.
He told the lawmakers that the nourishing properties of dolomite could turn the acidity in water to alkalinity. His department initially considered volcanic lahar for Baywalk beautification, but decided to drop the plan because the grain it produced was too fine and could produce mud.
Environment Undersecretary Jonas Leones said they spent P28 million to acquire and transport dolomite from a municipality in Cebu. The amount was just six percent of the P389 million total budget of the Manila Bay rehabilitation program.