Greenpeace's 'Rainbow Warrior' docks in GenSan

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/19 Nov) — Rainbow Warrior, the vintage vessel of environmental activist Greenpeace, docked at the Makar Wharf here Friday morning as part of the “Turn the Tide Southeast Asia” campaign.

The 52-year-old ship, which is due for decommissioning next year after serving Greenpeace for 21 years, was set tot sail to nearby Maasim, Sarangani on Saturday to campaign against the coal-fired power plant project of the Alcantara-led Conal Holdings Corp.

Amalie Conchelle H. Obusan, Greenpeace Southeast Asia climate and energy campaigner, said the Rainbow Warrior’s arrival in this premier port city was in line with the efforts to ask President Benigno S.C. Aquino III to leave a legacy of clean and green energy for the Philippines.

Greenpeace is pressing for a 50 percent renewable energy in the country by 2020, the group’s campaign material said. In Mindanao, more than half of the island’s power supply is already generated through hydropower, a renewable energy source.

For the first time ever, the Rainbow Warrior docked past 9 a.m. at the wharf here and was welcomed by a cultural presentation under the scorching heat of the sun.

The “Turn the Tide” tour, which aims to call on governments to turn the tide of dirty development to pave the way for a green and peaceful future, kicked off in Bangkok on September 17.

It threw its doors wide open to the public later in the afternoon. Rainbow Warrior will again have an open house from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday before sailing off.

Obusan said the highlight of Rainbow Warrior’s voyage in Mindanao will be Saturday’s sail to Maasim town where a flotilla of local fishing boats would meet it.

“There will be a human banner spelling out ‘No to Coal’ in Barangay Colon,” she said.

Maasim is being eyed as the site of the 200-megawatt coal-fired power plant in a bid to plug the power supply shortfall expected to hit this part of Mindanao in the next few years if no new generating facilities go on stream.

Obusan earlier said that burning coal causes the most harmful damage on earth, health and environment, aside from eroding entire cultures by displacing whole communities.

But the proponents of the coal-fired power plant took strong exceptions that the project would cause tremendous pollutions in the locality and nearby places.

They also appeared unfazed by the impact of Greenpeace’s campaign in the area, noting the company is keen on pursuing the project with the construction slated to start in the first quarter next year.

Joseph C. Nocos, Conal Holdings vice president for business development, said the technology they will employ, the circulating fluidized bed combustion technology, can efficiently comply with national and international regulatory standards.

In a press conference here Wednesday night, Nocos appealed to Greenpeace and the local opposition groups headed by the Diocese of Marbel to refrain from resorting to general statements and doomsday scenario.

He said that the proposed power plant’s nitrogen oxide emissions will be at a maximum of 150 milligram per normal cubic meter (mg/Nm3), a target which is way below the 1,000 mg/Nm3 set by Republic Act 8749 or the Clean Air Act.

Sulfur oxide emissions will also be at 150 mg/Nm3, which is significantly below the 700 mg/Nm3 standard set by the same law, he added.

The same is reportedly true with its carbon monoxide emissions (at 200 mg/Nm3 as opposed to the ceiling of 500 mg/Nm3). Particulate matters will be at 50 mg/Nm3, also below the 150 mg/Nm3 provided by RA 8749, Nocos pointed out.

He said that mercury emission in gaseous form will not exceed 0.02 mg/Nm3, way below the 5mg/Nm3 volume set by the Clean Air Act of 1999.

Nocos said that Conal Holdings is setting up a $13-million forestation project to absorb the carbon emissions instead of buying carbon credits elsewhere.

Called the carbon sink, Nocos said it is not a mandatory requirement of the government in projects like coal-fired power plants. (Bong S. Sarmiento / MindaNews)

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