Bataan coal plant stopped from dumping bottom ash

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LIMAY, Bataan: The Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) on Friday night said it has ordered the coal power plant here to stop dumping the bottom ash unless neutralized of its alleged hazardous properties.

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EMB Region 3 director Lormelyn Claudio told villagers at the PEX site in Barangay Lamao this town during a dialogue after meeting with Limay Mayor Lilvir Roque.

She said the bottom ash should be mixed with soil to make it less its corrosive before it is buried on a dump approved by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

The EMB officials said the new dumpsite will be within the huge industrial area and the present sites – pier area and near the 600-megawatt plant undergoing construction.

Claudio stressed that only the dumping of the bottom ash was ordered stopped and not the operation of the 140-megawatt plant coal plant that has been operating for more than three years.

She added that she has ordered the coal plant management to sprinkle water on the ashes and set up a buffer zone by planting trees between the plant and the community.

However, affected residents are not convinced of the EMB assurance and called for a long term palpable solution.

“Stoppage of dumping [of bottom ash]now, but what about in the long run?,” Alvin Pura, one of the residents asked Claudio, adding that sanctions must be imposed for alleged company violations.

Claudio said the EMB will install CCTV cameras to monitor the activities of the plant.

On Thursday, about 200 families at the area near the Bataan Refinery here have complained of the volume of coal ash dumped from a 140-megawatt coal plant owned by an oil company caused difficulty in breathing and skin rashes to a number of them.

They said the ashfall has affected the soil, plants, houses and their livelihood since December 26.

Bottom ash is two of the by-products of coal in power plants. The other is fly ash used in the production of cement.

Derek Cabe of the Coal-Free Bataan Movement said they have written many complaints to EMB but the agency acted only recently upon instructions of Environment Secretary Regina Lopez.

Cabe said they still do not see positive action. “The management of the plant does not admit their violations. They said the ash does not come from them,” she added.

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