Coal plant ‘a step backward’By Germelina Lacorte
The fate of the P25-billion coal-fired power plant project that Aboitiz Power Corp. has proposed in Barangay Binugao in Toril district here is now in limbo after Mayor Sara Duterte vetoed an ordinance reclassifying the proposed site and some parts of the village into a protected heavy industrial zone.
Currently, Binugao is classified as protected medium industrial zone under the city’s existing zoning law and the reclassification, which the city council approved on Nov. 15, was seen as the go signal for the coal power plant.
Aboitiz officials declined to comment on the mayor’s action.
“I am not willing to compromise the people’s right to health, clean air and water and environment sustainability,” Duterte said in her veto message received by the city council’s secretary on Tuesday.
Binugao hosts one of the city’s major aquifers and is touted to be one of the best sources of drinking water in the country.
Duterte said she agreed that the city faced a power shortage and efforts from the private sector to help address it were welcome.
“(But) I am disturbed by the environment and health implications of the (Aboitiz) project,” she said.
Duterte cited the results of recent studies, which showed that coal burning power stations continue to speed up global warming and most countries in the world are already veering away from this energy source because of its dangers to health and environment.
Duterte, a medical science student before she decided to become a lawyer, said the studies showed how coal burning fills the atmosphere with vast amounts of carbon dioxide. It also causes acid rain and smog, and emits more than 60 different hazardous air pollutants, including a variety of toxic metals, organic compounds, acid gases, sulphur, nitrogen and carbon dioxide, she said.
“Burning coal releases large amounts of neurotoxin mercury into the air,” Duterte said.
She said the city can’t “adopt a power source technology now being rejected in most parts of the world.” The project, she said, “would be a step backward” for the city.