The Philippine Movement for Climate Justice, the largest climate justice group in the country, trooped to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources offices on Wednesday to call out its inaction on a coal plant that has left residents of the communities around it with health complications due to the bottom ash produced by its operations.
The group rallied against the coal plant operations of Petron-San Miguel Consolidated Power Corp. in Barangay Lamao in Limay, Bataan.
“It was more than a month since [DENR] issued a notice of alleged violation to Petron and SMC, but until now, no immediate action has been undertaken. We don’t think this issue is being taken seriously,” said Ian Rivera, national coordinator of PMCJ.
The DENR Environmental Management Bureau Region III sent a notice of alleged violation to San Miguel Corp., which it received last Jan. 6. Another order was issued to Petron dated Dec. 28, 2016 directly from the office of the Environment Secretary.
“It was clearly stated in the documents issued to both companies that they are prohibited from continuing their test run and dumping operations while matters are being investigated but clearly, operations are business as usual,” Derec Cabe, coordinator of Nuclear-Free Bataan Movement, said.
The order issued to Petron also states the company acted beyond what is indicated in their Environmental Compliance Certificate, and has failed to install a Continuous Emission Monitoring System, which disabled them from providing a regular monitoring report.
The order adds that the bodies of water surrounding the coal plant are contaminated by hazardous substances. Lastly, Petron-SMC has failed to manage the bottom ash produced by their coal plant operations.
Despite the release of these notices, no formal complaint was ever filed against the coal plant. The Pollution Adjudication Board claims their office has not received any endorsement from the DENR Regional Office regarding Petron-SMC’s case, which left them unable to investigate further on the issue.
“There are enough evidences that the coal plant has committed both health and environmental violations. Notices have already been released. This is not just an issue of where to dump the bottom ash. The entire operations which produce the said waste materials should be stopped. There is no reason that the DENR is not taking action on this,” Rivera of PMCJ said.
“We need an explanation from the DENR on why they did not endorse this case to PAB immediately,” Rivera said. The group also reiterated that PAB must be assertive in this issue regardless since it was stated in the order that the body can act on its own pulse.
“We demand the closure of the Petron Coal Plant and the cancellation of the ECC granted to SMC immediately. Somebody has to be accountable for this delay—justice delayed is justice denied,” Rivera added.