Barangay officials vow to close coal plant in case of violations
Although they have agreed to allow the construction of a 300-megawatt coal-fired power plant, officials of Barangay Sawang Calero assured that they will be the first to push for the facility’s shutdown if it violates environmental laws.
Sawang Calero Barangay Captain Ariel Yburan said they will propose a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) on this matter among the barangay, proponent Ludo Power Corp., Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and other concerned agencies.
“We have to sign a MOA. Nga og dunay mosobra sa minimum allowed sa DENR, isirado gyud. If dunay vibration ug kasaba nga makatugaw sa mga nagpuyo, isirado gyud (If their emissions will exceed the standard allowed by DENR, it will be closed. If there’s vibration and noise that will disturb the residents, it should be closed),” Yburan told Cebu Daily News.
Yburan was reacting to the concerns raised by the Missionaries of the Poor (MOP), which is running the Little Lamb Center, a shelter for neglected children with special ailments and needs. The facility is situated next to the proposed coal plant, separated only by a concrete wall around 30 feet high.
The missionaries were worried that plant operations would raise the risk of ailments and the children, who are already suffering from physical and mental incapacity, would be vulnerable.
Yburan said his own home is also right beside the Ludo property. The Ludo property occupies 12.6 hectares, more than half of the entire barangay which is around 24.8 hectares.
What convinced him to support the project was the proponent’s promise that the proposed facility will be similar to the Sual Power Plant in Pangasinan, Yburan said.
He was part of the group of city and barangay officials and members of the media who were taken by Ludo on a familiarization tour at the Sual plant. He said he found the plant compliant to environmental laws.
“Naka-visit mi sa (We were able to visit) Sual Power Plant. It was built in 1996, limited man gani kaayo ang aso. Ang mga dagat, way namatay nga isda. Duna na gyud koy pagduha-duha nganong nipirma ko, maong nikuyog ko (it has limited emissions. There were no dead fishes in the seas. I admit, I had doubts why I signed the endorsement, that’s why I decided to join the visit). They promised new technology,” Yburan said.
The facility, which has a capacity of 1,218 megawatts, supplies 20 percent of the Luzon’s power requirements.
Yburan noted that there were no objections to the proposed project when Ludo and the barangay held two sectoral assemblies on Feb. 17 and March 1 and another general assembly on March 2.
“Wala ma’y ni-oppose. Naay mga pangutana, pero wala man ni-oppose (Nobody opposed. There were questions, but nobody opposed),” Yburan said.
This was why the barangay passed a resolution favorably endorsing the project.
“We endorsed it because nobody opposed. There were questions and they were answered. Us, barangay officials, we just did our ministerial duty to endorse the project to the city council because they are bigger and they know better, they have a lot of consultants,” Yburan added.
Residents opposing the project, led by 23-year old Keeshia Salazar, earlier said they were not invited by Ludo and the barangay to the consultations.
Some residents organized themselves and held a protest march against the project when Ludo officials started talking with the city council and presented their plans earlier this month.
Another public hearing was made last April 17.
Quoting presidential candidate and former Interior secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas II, Yburan said he was convinced that clean coal is safe.
He said he was personally convinced that Ludo won’t spend P3.8 billion for the project if the facility would just be shut down due to environmental violations.
Any project required to secure an Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) would have to comply with the guidelines under its ECC. Violation of the ECC provisions could mean the closure of the facility.
Ludo public relations officer Nelson Yuvallos earlier assured the city council that the company has prepared measures to mitigate pollution at the plant.
Among others, he said pulverized coal would not be stored within the facility but would immediately be transported by barge to cement manufacturers. The company would also use enclosed conveyors and ash silos to contain any fly ash.
The City Council’s committee on environment is scheduled to render a report on the project tomorrow, Wednesday.
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