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PROTECTING PEOPLE’S HEALTH

Another La Union town bans coal-fired plant

05:16 AM March 27, 2019

ARINGAY, La Union — The town council here has banned the construction, development and operation of a coal-fired power plant, making this coastal town the second in La Union province to make the prohibition after the surfing capital, San Juan.

“We basically adopted the resolution passed by San Juan [town council],” said Councilor Rachell Martinez, principal sponsor of the resolution unanimously approved during the council’s regular session on March 20.

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On March 11, San Juan closed the town to coal-fired power plants in a bid to preserve biodiversity and protect the health of residents.

Hazardous

Both councils said such power plants had been proven to produce hazardous pollutants that destroyed the environment and affect people’s health and livelihood. Officials of the two towns also called on other local governments in the province to adopt the same declaration “for the protection and conservation of the environment” and prevention of health hazards.

Martinez said the declaration was their contribution to calls to make a “coal-free La Union.”

Since 2017, residents, led by the Koalisyon Isalbar ti Pintas ti La Union (Coalition to Save the Beauty of La Union), had been opposing the P80-billion, 670-megawatt power plant project proposed by the Global Luzon Energy Development Corp., in the coastal villages of Carisquis and Nalvo Sur in Luna town.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources had issued an environmental compliance certificate for the project.

Shared coastline

Although Aringay is 60 kilometers south of Luna, it will still be directly affected by the proposed plant because they share the same coastline, Martinez said.

Based on 2015 data from the Philippine Statistics Authority, Aringay had a population of 47,458 people.

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“We are in a coastal area and we are also an agricultural town. We are within the radius of the areas that could be affected by the coal-fired plant,” Martinez said.

Church support

In a manifesto read in all Masses in the province last month, San Fernando Bishop Daniel Presto called on the government to drop its plan to build the Luna plant.

Presto said the temporary economic benefits from the operation of the power plants were “not acceptable trade-offs for long-term degradation of the environment.”

In January, a group of surfers belonging to Manila Surfers Association staged a protest action to express its support to La Union people’s opposition to the proposed plant. —GABRIEL CARDINOZA

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TAGS: ban on coal-fired plants, Rachell Martinez, San Jua coal-fired plants
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