LOOK: New Doses Have Arrived...of Dolomite, That Is
Because what better way to take care of our mental health. (See: Sarcasm)
(SPOT.ph) Manila Bay's controversial "white-sand beach"—made from crushed dolomite boulders sourced from Cebu—first made the headlines on September 3, 2020. And amid another surge of COVID-19 cases and the uncertainty in the arrival of more vaccines, a fresh dose of crushed dolomite was seen being poured along the banks of Manila Bay on Tuesday, April 13.
The artificial white sand is part of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources's P389-million project to rehabilitate the area. They intend to fill a 500-meter stretch of the baywalk, starting with the area near the U.S. Embassy along Roxas Boulevard.
"Gagawin white sand itong, dito sa may baywalk area para makita ng tao na kapag puti ang kulay ng isang bagay, kailangan pangalagaan mo ito at wag mo dumihan," said Department of Environment and Natural Resources Undersecretary (DENR) Benny Antiporda on September 3, 2020.
In late September 2020, most of the white sand was reported to be washed out because of the heavy rain. Geologist Ezekiel Galanto already warned the public about this in a GMA interview on September 17, 2020, when he said: "The washing out may take time this year or next year lalo na ngayon ay tayo ay pumapasok sa rainy season, lalo na tayo ay nasa La Niña alert pa."
But DENR Undersecretary for Policy, Planning and International Affairs Jonas R. Leones maintained on October 28, 2020 that "there is no truth to the news reports that the dolomite sand has already been washed out to the sea." He added that the dolomite "will not be washed out to the sea because of the geo-engineering intervention we put on the project."
On September 7, 2020, Department of Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said that medical literature shows that crushed dolomite can cause adverse respiratory reactions. She clarified, however: "Hindi naman po natin sinasabi na when you go to Manila Bay, you'll get it at once, pero 'yon lang po ang sinasabi ng mga artikulo."
She also cited the effects of dolomite based on studies: "Dolomite dust, pag naging dust na siya, nag-aerosolize sa air—it can cause respiratory issues. Pag napunta sa mata, nagkakaroon ng irritations. Pag na-ingest, it can have discomfort sa gastrointestinal system natin, magkakaroon lang ng konting sakit ng tiyan at pagtatae. These are the minor effects of dolomite na nilagay doon sa Manila Bay," she added.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque defended the multi-million project on the same day: "I think ‘yong pagpapasyal sa mga lugar gaya ng Manila Bay na may white beach, hindi mo maka-quantify ang epekto nyan pagdating sa mental health ng ating mga kababayan."
Our hospitals may be experiencing overcapacity, our health workers overworked, and our vaccination program moving at a glacial pace; but at least we have crushed dolomite to take care of our mental health.
All photos taken by Jerome Ascaño on April 14, 2021.