Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Gapo, Subic oppose coal-fired power plant


Environmentalists, residents, and officials in Olongapo and Subic, Zambales have raised serious concerns regarding the hazardous effects on the environment and the surrounding communities of the planned coal-fired power plant to be built by the Redondo Peninsula Energy Inc. in Cawag, an outskirt barangay of Subic town.

The Redondo Peninsula Energy Inc., a joint venture between Aboitiz Energy and Taiwan Cogen Corp., plans to invest $500 million to put up a 300-megawatt coal-fired power plant to cater to the increasing power needs of industries and locators in the Subic Bay Freeport Zone.

The concerned sectors are alarmed over the pollution the power plant will create and the dangers it will pose to the pristine environment of the Subic Bay area.

The Olongapo City Council and barangay leaders both in Olongapo and in Subic also expressed strong reservations about the project. In a resolution, Olongapo councilors urged the project proponents to dump the proposed coal-fired power plant project and instead consider renewable and environment-friendly alternative sources of energy for Subic Bay.

They cautioned the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority against hastily granting an Environment Compliance Certificate to Redondo Peninsula Energy Inc. until the environmental and health issues raised by the communities involved are satisfactorily answered.

For his part, Olongapo Mayor James “Bong” Gordon sought clarification from SBMA officials on why the agency entertained a proposal of having a coal-fired power plant built in Subic despite the known dangers it brings.

“While the plan is in line with the ongoing development of the Subic Bay Freeport Zone, the pollution from the coal plant could have permanent adverse effects not only to the outlying areas but to the livelihood and health of the people as well,” Gordon said.

The mayor said that although coal-fired power plants may be a cheap source of energy they are known to emit coal combustion wastes that have harmful effects on plants, animals, and humans which cannot be totally eliminated or adequately controlled by any existing technology.

City councilors echoed Gordon’s worries.

“The use of coal and other fossil fuels contribute to global warming, pollutio,n and environmental degradation,” they said in a resolution.

It cited the case of China which suffered from the ill effects of using coal as fuel for energy. The toxic emission from its coal-ried plants caused an estimated 400,000 premature annual deaths and increasingly worsening air quality. China is now switching to renewable green sources of energy.

Aboitiz Power Corp. vice president Wilfredo Bacareza Jr. earlier said that Redondo Peninsula Energy Inc. was waiting for the release of the ECC from the DENR and SBMA. If it pushes through, the project is expected to be completed in three years.

“After diligent analysis of the project proponents along with the concerns and studies of various environmental groups and health experts, we believe that the grim environmental and economic impact of a coal-fired power plant in Subic Bay far outweighs its perceived and unproven benefits to our local economy which ironically relies heavily on tourism,” the resolution stated.

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