Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Subic groups vote for balanced ecosystem

By. George Lorenzana - Philippine Daily Inquirer

We, the Multipartite Monitoring Team (MMT) for Subic Bay, would like to air our concerns about the 300-megawatt coal-fired power plant that a Taiwanese corporation is planning to put up in partnership with Subic Enerzone.

1. Although the Taiwanese proponents claim that air emissions from the plant will comply with Philippine standards, are we assured that the air quality in Subic will be maintained with the plant’s operation? Subic’s air quality is precisely the reason why Subic has such a big potential, not just as a tourist destination but also as a global community envisioned to attract investments from all over the world. The coal-fired power plant is an “environmentally critical project” in an environmentally critical area.

2. Since coal will be shipped from Indonesia in big volumes (several ships per day), what protection will the community have from coal dust coming from these ships, i.e., while the coal is still in transit, being unloaded and on its way to the coal plant? The pollution of the air might be significant especially with the strong winds coming from the open sea. Several questions thus come to mind: How will fly ash be handled? Will it be shipped out to cement plants? Will it be deposited in open pit or landfill? What will be the dust emission level? Will the coal storage facilities be covered, or exposed to winds or subjected to spontaneous combustion suppression?

3. How is the ecosystem and the fishing industry going to be protected from the daily high-volume, high-temperature water emissions into Subic Bay?

The above concerns have been aired by members of our organization in two separate meetings. The proponents while promising to reply to these concerns have not found the time to do so, much less present a final design based on existing data.

The MMT is composed of the federation of fisherfolk organizations in the area, the Barrio Baretto Businessman’s Association, tourism organizations in the Bay Area, the Rotary Club of Subic, some barangays around Subic Bay, the Environmental Safety Management Office of Olongapo City, City Health Office of Olongapo, Homeowners Associations, the Maritime Command, the Coast Guard, FARM-C, Diver’s Association of Subic and concerned individuals.

At the second meeting, the proponents, including Enerzone officials, gave a presentation of the project, after which a city councilor of Olongapo asked the assembly whether they were in favor of the coal power plant. Not one answered in the affirmative.

We are not against progress, but a delicate balance of the ecosystem in Subic must be maintained. A power plant (using other sources of energy like the one in Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte) and a tourism community are not mutually exclusive.

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