The Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) has ordered a coal power plant operator here to stop dumping of bottom ash unless neutralized its alleged hazardous properties and to be disposed only in an area approved by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
EMB Region 3 director Lormelyn Claudio made the announcement during a dialogue Friday night with villagers at the PEX site in Barangay Lamao, this town after meeting with Limay Mayor Lilvir Roque.
"We issued an order stopping the dumping of bottom ash in any disposal sites," she said.
The EMB director said that before the bottom ash would be disposed of, it should be neutralized with soil to lessen its corrosivity and no longer hazardous.
Disposal will only be permitted in an area approved by DENR, she said.
Bottom ash is two of the by-products of coal in power plants. The other is fly ash used in the production of cement.
Claudio emphasized, however, that the operation of the coal plant will not be stopped.
Only stoppage of dumping of bottom ash, she said.
The order involves the 140 or 150 megawatt plant operational reportedly for already three years.
Claudio said that she had ordered management of the coal plant to undertake sprinkling of water for ash not to affect the community and the setting up of buffer zone by planting trees between the plant and the community.
The director also told residents that the company has committed to undertake medical missions.
Affected residents, however, seemed not to be convinced.
"Today, stoppage of dumping but what about in the long run?, Alvin Pura asked the director.
The affected residents demanded lasting solutions and sanctions on alleged company violations.
Claudio said EMB would install CCTV cameras to monitor the activities of the plant.
"In case, I am no longer around or be placed elsewhere, there are chiefs of the different departments in the EMB," she said in reference to reports that DENR Secretary Gina Lopez would see to it that heads would roll.
"I hope the media will report that I am making an action. Like, today, I am here the whole day until evening," the EMB director said.
With her were chemists, monitoring team and other officials and personnel of EMB in Region 3 and main office in Manila.
Derek Cabe of the Coal-Free Bataan Movement said they have written many complaints to EMB but the agency acted only recently.
"We are thankful with Secretary Lopez and we will wait for her actions, Cabe, who is a ranking member of the Kilusang Pambansang Demokratiko, said.
Source: Philippines News Agency