BALANGA CITY: Bataan Bishop Ruperto Santos on Saturday called for a stop to the construction of additional power plants in the province that use fossil fuels like coal and petroleum products citing the severe impact on the environment.
The call was made through a pastoral letter which is to be read in the parishes in Bataan this Sunday that Santos calls the stand, constitution and road map of the Diocese of Balanga concerning the environment.
On Friday, anti-coal activists belonging to the Coal Free Bataan Movement, Limay Concerned Citizens, and the Kilusang Pambansang Demokratiko held a protest rally in Barangay Lamao, Limay town denouncing the continued operation of the coal-fired plants.
Santos pointed out that the province has already two power plants (San Miguel Global Power and GN Power Plant) which uses coal; Refinery Solid Fuel Fired Power Plant (Rsffpp) that uses coal and petcoke, a fuel oil waste product; and Panasia Power Plant that runs on diesel and fuel oil.
He said the Bataan Oil Refinery, that has been operating in the province for more than 50 years, supports the fuel needs of Panasia and in part that of Rsffpp.
GN Power Plant is in Mariveles town while the others, including the Bataan Oil Refinery are in Limay, mostly adjacent to barangay Lamao.
The parishes in Limay and nearby villages in Mariveles – Sisiman and Alas-Asin – have conducted studies on the effects of the coal-fired plants to health and the environment from October to December 2016.
“The parishioners called our attention as they were experiencing difficulty in breathing. More children were afflicted with asthma, fish were found dead while more plants and trees have withered and died,” the bishop said.
He added that temperature in Lamao is hotter compared to other nearby villages and towns.
In January this year, Lamao residents complained of various health problems, including skin diseases which they blamed on ash fall or spill from a by-product storage facility in the area. This prompted the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the provincial health office to conduct an investigation.
The DENR also issued directives stopping the dumping of ash in the shared stockpile to which San Miguel Global Power complied.
Santos said Bataan can do nothing but accept the operation of the five plants already in place but some measures must be put in place to cushion its effect on the people’s health and the environment.
He pointed out that Bataan has already done its share in the economy of the country and there is no more need for coal-fired plants to be built there.
The bishop called on local government units to be open to alternative sources of energy like solar, wind and water and to closely monitor the existing power plants.