ENVIRONMENT Secretary Regina Lopez on Thursday said she would soon issue a permit to allow Petron Corp. to transfer an ash stockpile at its Limay, Bataan refinery to a cement plant in the same complex.
Following a dialogue with residents near the refinery, Lopez said she would ask Ramon Ang, president of Petron’s parent San Miguel Corp., to submit an application to transport the ash, which would be processed immediately.
“Right now it’s the mountain. The mountain is causing all the health problems. The mayor didn’t give the permit. I’ll give their permit and they are gonna take it out,” Lopez was quoted as saying in a statement. “They’re gonna silo it so it doesn’t go out at all and we’ll see it happening.”
Residents had complained of the ash supposedly from the Limay refinery, prompting the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) under the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to issue notices of violation against the Petron refinery and SMC Consolidated Power Corp., which is building a coal plant in the complex.
Petron and SMC Consolidated are subsidiaries of San Miguel, one of the country’s biggest conglomerates.
Lopez said she would exert all efforts to ensure that Petron and SMC Consolidated would “comply with environmental laws and not cause people to suffer.”
“I am sure that Mr. Ang would not do something that would jeopardize a billion-dollar operation. I commit and make sure that you (the community) would be okay,” Lopez was quoted as telling Limay residents.
EMB Acting Director Jacqueline Caancan said the bureau would have to make sure the ash being released from the refinery complex is not toxic.
“If found non-hazardous, the materials could be dumped in a sanitary landfill or allowed to be disposed of through other equally safe means,” Caancan said. “Otherwise, the company would have to secure a permit to transport from the EMB,” she added.
On Wednesday, Ang denied that Petron was causing environmental and health problems in Limay.
“We don’t even need to dump anything, because whatever we generate everyday, we haul this to the cement plant—this becomes calcine limestone; with sulfur and everything, it’s called gypsum powder,” Ang told reporters.
He explained that the operations in Bataan mostly produced limestone powder, which is certified by the DENR as
non-hazardous and is used as raw material for manufacturing cement.
with ABERON VOLTAIRE PALAÑA