Bataan town execs, SMC probe link of ailments with coal plant ash spill
LIMAY, Bataan — The San Miguel Consolidated Power Corp. (SMCCPC) and this town’s government have deployed doctors to aid ailing residents living near a coal-fired power plant operating inside the Petron Bataan Refinery (PBR) here.
Operators of the 150-megawatt plant at the refinery were slapped with notices of violation on Dec. 28 and again on Jan. 6 by the Environmental Management Bureau for ash residue that might have made its way to a waterway, and because of health problems reported in villages like Lamao.
The SMCCPC has been coordinating with the local health officials to address the complaints of the residents, although it has yet to determine if the illnesses reported there were tied to fly ash (or ash particles small enough to float in the air), said Jaime Santos, the company spokesperson.
“[SMCCPC] is trying to determine the kind of assistance it could provide the residents,” Santos said at a Monday briefing (Jan. 9) here.
Mayor Lilvir Roque said specialists from St. Luke’s Hospital have also been tapped to examine the residents.
“We will be conducting an epidemiological study to find out if [an] ash spill has a direct effect on the health of people living near the plant,” Roque said.
SMCCPC is a subsidiary of the San Miguel Corp., which has a controlling stake in Petron Corporation. The firm attended a technical conference here to discuss the findings made by the EMB.
Undersecretary Arturo Valdez of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has asked SMCCPC and Petron Corp. to carry out measures to contain the coal plant residue.
“Environment Secretary Gina Lopez is upset. We want radical intervention by tomorrow (Jan. 10) to mitigate the effects of the ash spill,” Valdez said at the meeting.
Santos said, “We have stopped dumping ash and we will treat [the residue] to pass quality requirements before taking it outside Bataan.” SFM
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