Bataan residents complain of coal ash

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LIMAY, Bataan: About 200 families in a village near the Bataan Refinery here have complained that the volume of coal ash coming from a 140-megawatt coal plant owned by an oil company threatens their health.

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Residents complained of ashfall that causes 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.

Derek Cabe of Coal-free Bataan Movement said according to their census, about 160 or 180 families in the PEX site in Barangay Lamao, Limay town are the most affected and need relocation.

The residents showed to The Manila Times soil that was originally brownish but has turned to white because of coal ash.

Also dusts stuck on plants and the houses’ window panes.

Daisy Pedranza, vice president of Limay Concerned Citizens, said they filed a petition with the Environmental Management Bureau since pollution has been affecting the environment and their health.

They also expressed willingness to leave the area provided they are given decent relocation.

“Because of intense pollution [from coal ash], we are willing to leave as long as we are given proper relocation and compensation according to what is stated in the law,” Pedranza said in Filipino.

She pointed to mounds of bottom ash dumped near the 600-megawatt coal plant undergoing construction.

The bottom ash reportedly came from the 140-megawatt coal plant already operational in the area.

Mayor Lilvir Roque said that since July last year, they have requested the management of the coal plant to address the same problem experienced by the residents.

He added that last December 28 after he called a special meeting of the multi-partite monitoring team, the dumping of bottom ash (waste from coal) was stopped in one site.

But the dumping continued in another site, Roque said.

“I will call another special meeting to address the problem,” he added.

Roque said the municipality will assist the affected residents to prevent health risks.

Meanwhile, the EMB on Thursday began collecting and measuring the volume of dusts in the air.

Raldy Pagador, EMB engineer wholed a team from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) regional office in San Fernando, Pampanga said they installed High Volume Sampler machine at the source of the ashfall.

“This machine will measure the total suspended particulates in the area,” Dennis Mangulabnan, EMB monitoring staff, said.

He added that the result will be known after a week.

The standard is 300 micrograms per normal cubic meter.

A reading beyond 300 will be bad for the health of residents and means a violation on the part of the company, Mangulabnan said.

The Manila Times tried to get comment from the company community relations manager but he was not available as of press time.

Ernie B. Esconde

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