PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Sept. 28 - The David M. Consunji, Inc. (DMCI) Power Corporation, the company proposing to put up a 15-megawatt (MW) diesel and coal-fired power plant in Puerto Princesa and Palawan, assured Palaweños that its future operation will strictly utilize clean coal technology to downgrade any adverse impact that may be posed by coal power generation to humans and the environment.
The assurance was made by DMCI president Nestor Dadivas following a one-day study tour on September 26 that brought 20 representatives from non-government organizations, the Palawan Electric Cooperative (PALECO), Panacan barangay officials, Narra municipal councilors and other stakeholders to see the clean coal technology power plant of the Panay Power Corporation (PPC) at Sitio Ingo-re, La Paz in the province of Iloilo.
We guarantee that the partnership we want to make with the people of Puerto Princesa and Palawan is one that will use clean coal technology. Our company will not invest billions of pesos in your city and province, which want to pursue high and international standard tourism-oriented activities, if we will allow a business operation that will affect the health of the people and the environment that Palaweños are passionate in protecting, Dadivas said in an interview with the Philippine News Agency (PNA).
Dadivas said the fact that clean coal technology is proliferating means some fears about it are baseless and often exaggerated by those who refuse to understand that it can be done even in places like the city and province that protect the balance in their ecologies through sustainable means.
In doing the study tour in Iloilo, Loides Castro, project development manager of DMCI, said they hope to showcase the coal-fired power plant of PPC to allay fears that range from land use, waste management, water and air pollution, including bottom and fly ashes, and flue-gas desulfurization sludge that contain mercury, uranium, thorium, arsenic and other heavy metals which may have serious health effects on the people and the environment, aside from the fact that it is considered a major contributor to global warming.
DMCI works and does business with human touch, with tall consideration for the welfare of the people; we will not consider investing in Palawan if we do not understand its main concerns, which are the health of its people and its environment, Castro said.
Castro furthered that their operation will also have positive ripple effects, such as generation of direct and indirect employment, payment of real property taxes, and various programs and projects on livelihood, skills training and others for the people and the environment from DMCIs corporate social responsibility.
During construction of the plant, she said, DMCI will need about 200 laborers, including skilled workers, who can be sourced in the province if available. When operation begins two years from now, the company will need 75-80 personnel to run its daily management.
The diesel-fired power plant, which is expected to operate in December this year, will need 60-80 personnel.
Despite the commitment however, the Palawan NGO Network, Inc. (PNNI), an umbrella association of almost all environment organizations in Puerto Princesa and Palawan, is apprehensive about the project.
Environmental lawyer Eduardo Lorenzo of the Environmental Legal Assistance Center (ELAC) said until now, the DMCI has failed to present important technical aspects of its proposed operation, such as its waste management plan if no one buys the residue from burnt coals.
The NGO is concerned too about Barangay Panacan, where the DMCI has found a suitable site for its coal plant project. He said the barangay faces Rasa Island two kilometers away, where the endangered cockatoos dwell; and Mount Victoria, where biodiversity abounds in Narra.
We understand and respect the need for power in Palawan, Lorenzo clearly stated. However, he said that instead of turning to coal, the province should consider renewal energy instead. (PNA)