DENR probes Limay ash spill’s pollution

MANILA-- The environment department is assessing environmental quality in Bataan province's ash spill-stricken Limay municipality.

Results of the assessment will help determine effectivity of anti-pollution interventions made there so far and extent of accountability for the ash spill, noted Jacqueline Caancan who's the department's Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) Asst. Director and OIC.

"Those results can also help us set new policies and interventions for addressing pollution," she said.

EMB continues investigating the spill of ash linked to power production in Limay.

Caancan said experts concerned are already sampling air in the area.

They also set commencing Friday afternoon (Jan. 13) sampling of soil mixed with bottom ash from Petron Bataan Refinery (PBR) oil refinery complex there, she noted.

"We hope receiving the samplings' results this month," she said.

Among PBR operator Petron Corporation's interventions is combining the ash with soil then watering this mix to help neutralize the former and reduce its corrosivity, noted Caancan.

Citing latest reports to EMB, she said Petron used for the undertaking about 400 cubic meters of soil.

She noted the mix is atop a liner to prevent this wet material from seeping to and contaminating groundwater, however.

EMB Region III already ordered SMC Consolidated Power Corp. (SMCCPC) to stop any activity inside its coal-fired power plant in Limay and directed PBR to stop dumping newly generated bottom ash in the area while the spill is under investigation, DENR said in its Jan. 7, 2017 press release.

DENR said EMB also gave SMCCPC seven days or until Jan. 13 this year to explain why this company musn't be penalized under PD 1586, the law establishing government's Environmental Impact Assessment System.

SMCCPC must also explain why EMB musn't either suspend or revoke this company's environmental clearance certificate (ECC), DENR continued.

EMB is responsible for implementing various environmental laws and regulations including PD 1586.

The Environmental Impact Assessment System PD 1586 established requires ECCs to ensure projects won't create adverse environmental impacts, noted DENR.

Limay residents are concerned about the ash spill's impact on their health, noting this event already rendered several of them ill.

This week, they met with Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Regina Lopez to air their concern.

Lopez assured all efforts to ensure PBR and SMCCPC will comply with environmental laws and not cause people's suffering, said DENR.

DENR added Lopez assured this agency's coordination with Department of Health regarding medical conditions the residents reported. (PNA)

Source: Philippines News Agency