If there is good news about the possibility of less to zero brown outs and employment benefits a proposed Coal Plant Project promises when put up late this year in Kauswagan, Lanao del Norte, the Department of Biological Sciences (DBS) of the College of Science & Mathematics (CSM) are up in arms at this development.

Environmentalist and DBS faculty Dr. Ephrime Metillo said that there was no information about the putting up of a Coal Power Plant Project, much less information about its technology. He said there are many aspects of the environment that will be affected if such is built within Lanao del Norte.

“We should know about what technology is going to be used in this coal power plant because such plant will affect the ecology, ecosystems of the environment like the animal and plant life, and the environment’s water, air, and soil.

Dr. Cesar G. Demayo, DBS Chair also said that with the coal power plant in Kauswagan, the fishing areas will be affected in the long run. Acid rain will eventually happen like in areas where the coal power plants are located in China. China’s coal-power plants have caused air pollution resulting in lung diseases that are common there, Demayo added.

Metillo emphasized that “We need to be assured that the technology to be used is clean although there is no such thing as ‘clean technology.’ Not only the plant site in the town of Kauswagan will be affected by the putting up of the coal plant but the other towns like Bacolod, Linamon and Iligan City will be affected as well, Metillo said.

We have the right to information and the mass media must help disseminate information about the technology of this coal plant, Metillo said.

Kauswagan, according to environmentalists has rich biodiversity contradicting detractors who said that the town has the ‘poorest’ in biodiversity. A presidential proclamation during the term of President Ferdinand Marcos had touted Kauswagan as a mangrove forest reserve.

The Kauswagan mayor is not a biologist and must consult biologists or environmentalists because of the ill effects on the environment such coal plant may bring to the town and its neighboring towns and to Iligan City, Metillo said.

“We just need information and assurance,” he said.

The planned coal-fired power plant will occupy 85 hectares of Barangay Libertad. It is a $1 B (Php 50 billion), 540 megawatt coal plant by the Oregon-based GN Power with the Ayala Corp. as its local partner.

Rey Benedictos, Superintendent of the Rural Protecting Landscape and Seascape of the Department of Environment & Natural Resources here said that the LGU has assured DENR that residents of Barangay Libertad will be relocated to ‘safer ground’ even as the point persons of the Coal Plant Project are still securing the Environment Compliance Certificate (ECC) from the central office for the project because “social acceptability is important too” he said.

About 60 percent of Barangay Libertad’s residents have been relocated and the project is expected to be constructed late this year. – Christine Godinez Ortega/OC-OPI

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