Sta. Cruz okays coal-fired power plant

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/01 June) – The municipal government of Sta. Cruz, Davao del Sur has endorsed the proposal of Aboitiz Power to build a coal-fired power plant despite opposition to the operations of such facility for its supposed harmful effects on the environment and human health.

“Our main concern is to address the economic development of the people in Davao del Sur, this is the reason why we accommodate these types of investments in the area,” Mayor Joel Ray Lopez said in a press conference yesterday at Club 888.

“There are more power plant investments on deck. Our local government unit (LGU) is also placing the Ayala-Zobel & Mitsubishi Solar Power Plant joint venture,” Lopez said of the 150-hectare project which is expected to operate in November this year and produce 35-50 megawatts.

Asked about the basis of the endorsement of the coal-fired power plant even without an Environmental Impact Assessment by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Lopez said, “We don’t have the skills and technical capability to assess and determine the environmental impact.”

The mayor conceded there will probably be impacts on the environment, “but as of now, there are no reports yet of hazards, and these companies will get permits from DENR and other agencies. I don’t think offices of national agencies will give permission if they know that a certain operation is hazardous.”

In a telephone interview with Dr. Jean Lindo, spokesperson of Network Opposed to Coal (No to Coal), Lindo said that Lopez should learn more about the effects of coal-fired power plants. “Being the mayor, his task to find out about the hazards and the benefits of a certain operation in his area is imperative and his duty to his people’s welfare is tremendous.”

“He may mean well but when speaking about development, he should also consider the wellness of the people. If you consider the long-term effects of coal-fired power plants, such as that of Aboitiz’, the health hazards are tremendous considering the elements that coal-fire will produce,” Lindo added.

She said pollution caused by coal-fired power plant operations travels up to 600 miles and affects not only people’s health but also displaces them due to destruction of the natural environment.

Sta. Cruz is a growing industrial hub. Among the firms that have recently poured investments are Hedcor, San Miguel Corporation, and CJ Toyota Tsusho Philippines. (Joan Mae Soco-Bantayan/MindaNews)