LIMAY, Bataan—The Coal-Free Bataan Movement on Monday lamented the continued operation of ashfall-causing coal-fired power plants in this town.
“We have read in the news that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Environmental Management Bureau in Region 3 already ordered the shutdown of the SMC Global Power plant and told the Petron Corp. RMP 2 coal plant to ‘stop dumping newly generated bottom ash,’” said Derek Cabe, coordinator of the Coal-Free Bataan Movement.
“We checked this morning and found out the Limay coal plants are still in operation.”
Asked to react to the DENR-EMB’s reported plan to shut down the plant, San Miguel Corp. president Ramon Ang on Friday said it was “not true news” without elaborating.
In a statement, Petron said its ash pond “is located within our facility and near our offices. It has the necessary regional and local permits, is surrounded by dikes and regularly watered to prevent dispersion.”
Ash from the pond, certified by the DENR as non-hazardous, “will be used as raw material for our cement manufacturing plant,” added Petron, which also has its 180,000 barrel-per-day refinery in Limay.
The group lambasted Limay Mayor Ver Roque SMC and Petron for the “hazardous surroundings” brought about by the coal plants operation, which it said has caused lung and skin diseases in Sitio Pexsite, Barangay Lamao here.
Residents have been complaining of the volume of coal ash coming from the plants and a very foul odor since several months back. Roque has so far not commented on the issue.
Cabe told a local radio station here that as early as 2014, when only the Petron coal plant was in operation, the group already documented cases of lung and skin diseases in its surrounding areas, adding that a child had already died with these ailments.
“As early as 2014, we already petitioned concerned government agencies to look at the plight of the affected people and the operation of the Petron coal plant. We have been asking repeatedly for a meeting with Limay Mayor Roque and Petron Corp. to discuss the problem, but not once have they talked to us. Our complaints are falling on deaf ears,” she said.