4 more coal-fired plants proposed in Central Luzon

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CITY OF SAN FERNANDO—The Coal-Free Central Luzon Movement (CFCLM) has warned of an “impending air pollution catastrophe” in the region because private companies plan to build four coal-fired power plants in Zambales and Bataan to add to the two coal-fired facilities that already operate in the region.

Msgr. Antonio Dumaual, CFCLM chair, sent out the warning ahead of the celebration of Earth Day today, when the group is set to hold protest caravans against what it called the “dirtiest source of electricity.”

Citing the impact of coal plants on public health and environmental protection, CFCLM said the government should stop the construction of a 600-megawatt plant by Redondo Peninsula Energy Inc. (RP Energy) and a 200-MW plant by Korea Electric Power Corp., both in Subic, Zambales; a 600-MW plant representing Phase 2 of the Masinloc coal-fired power facility by American Energy Systems Philippines (AES Philippines) in Masinloc, Zambales; and a 600-MW plant by San Miguel Corp. (SMC) in Limay, Bataan.

In January, the Court of Appeals nullified the lease development agreement and environmental compliance certificate (ECC) of the power plant of RP Energy because of the lack of local government approval and National Commission on Indigenous Peoples’ certification and violation of ECC restrictions.

The appellate court, however, did not issue a temporary environmental protection order against the project because the power plant has yet to operate.

In an earlier statement, RP Energy said it presented “overwhelming evidence” that the power plant project would not cause any adverse environmental impact.

“It will utilize state-of-the-art technology and RP Energy took great care in complying with all the requirements for the issuance and amendments of the ECC, as required by the [Department of Environment and Natural Resources],” said lawyer George Aquino, counsel for RP Energy, in the statement.

Dumaual, however, said reports that their group had received showed that the RP Energy project “is almost a done deal.”

He said AES Philippines wants the construction of its coal-fired power plant to begin in 2014.

SMC’s plant, which is designed to process fluidized bead coal, is in the first stage of social preparation, he said.

Phase 1 of the Masinloc plant has been operating since it was developed during the administration of former President Fidel Ramos in the 1990s.

Phase 2, which is GN Power’s 600-MW project in Mariveles, has been undergoing test runs since January and is set to operate on May 1.

Citing studies by his group, Dumaual said coal-fired power plants emit hazardous gases, such as carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrous oxide and sulfur oxide. He said these facilities also expel toxic chemicals, like mercury, lead, cadmium, arsenic and radioactive substances, like uranium and thorium.

He said a coal plant consumes 2.2 million gallons of water for its boilers, enough to dry up an irrigation system, and releases hot water of about the same amount it takes in.  Tonette Orejas, Inquirer Central Luzon

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