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Danger of Planned Coal Fired Power Plant in Subic Bay

June 6, 2011 ·  By Alex Corpus Hermoso


06 June 2011

The Presiding Officer, the Hon. Vice Gov. Ramon Lacbain, the Members of the Sanguiang Bayan Province of Zambales

The Olongapo-Zambales Civil Society Organization otherwise known as the OZCSN is a coalition of Civil Society Organizations organized itself to pursue the following priority thrusts namely: (1) Poverty reduction and MDGs, (2) Equitable economic growth, (3) Peace, security and human rights, (4) Democratic governance, and (5) Disaster Risk Reduction, Biodiversity and Climate Change Adaptation. This is on the basis of the latest United Nations ­ Civil Society Assembly in the Philippines on May 2011 that agreed to pursue the said themes in engaging with the Local and National Government and other institutions.

It is under the same themes of engagement with SBMA and the LGUs concerned that the OZCSN is questioning the validity of the proposed 300 MW Coal-fired Power Plant in Sitio Naglatore, Redondo Peninsula within the jurisdiction of the Subic Bay Freeport Zone. It is publicly known that the same project intends to eventually increase its capacity to 600 MW.

The project is opposed by the Olongapo City Government for health and environmental reasons. It is opposed by major tourism-related locators such as the Ocean Adventure, Zoobic Safari, Subic Resorts and Hotels as well as major Civil Society Organizations, NGOs/POs, the residents of Kalayaan and Binictican that is located within the SBFZ and the general population of the sorrounding towns. It is also opposed by Municipality of Subic of which Barangay Cawag where Sitio Naglatore is located.

Aside from the objectionable proposal on the basis of the danger to environment, hazard and threat to the growing tourism industry, we are also questioning the Joint Venture between Aboitiz Power Corporation and the Taiwan Cogeneration Corporation (TCC) otherwise known to be the RP Energy, Inc. on the basis of governance and socio-economic issues. The SBMA and TCC signed on July 2006 Memorandum of Understanding. This understanding called for TCC to set up a Coal-fired power plant with 3 basic intents:

-that it would be a Joint Venture with SBMA
-that it would be environmentally friendly, and
-that it would provide affordable power to the Freeport, Olongapo City and the greater local area.

The understanding also specifically stated that the Lease Rate of US$3.50 per square meter for the whole 50 year period payable in long term . However on June 10, 2010 the Lease & Development Agreement (LDA) between SBMA and now the RP Energy, Inc. was forged. The so-called joint venture between the RP Energy, Inc. was reduced to a mere Leasor and Leesee relationship at the rate of $3.50 per square meter for the whole 50 year period payable in long term.

While the $3.50 per square meter may sound good enough for the site it is translated to a real estate market value of just about P25 per square meter. Neocove Resorts recently offered an average price for the same real estate area at P500 per square meter. Such generous lease terms for the Coal Power Plant raises eyebrows toward the old SBMA Board who approved the project and may have been made in consideration for the Joint Venture with SBMA, lower power costs to the Freeport, and the project being environmentally friendly. However, the little employment generated by the Coal Power Plant if that is used to justify the project cannot warrant the negative effect on tourism and environment as well as health of the general population within the greater Subic Bay Freeport Zone. In fact, the project may even be violating the mission of SBMA to generate labor-intensive projects. Mr. Cunningham earlier said in his presentation that there will be about 1,500 employees during the construction phase and only about 115 permanent employees thereafter to manage and operate the coal power plant.

The DENR finally admitted that an ECC was issued by Secretary Atienza despite the earlier denial of local DENR officials. The RP Energy has been issued with a business permit by the SBMA Business & Investment Group on October 2, 2010 which expressly grants it a PERMIT TO OPERATE the business of owning and operating the coal-fired power plant. On April 05, 2011 RP Energy applied for a Site Development Permit with the Building Permit and Safety Department. The SBMA Ecology Department has given clearance on this request on April 18, 2011 with a one phrase approval stating that ³this office poses no objection..².

The fast tracking of the permits again raises eyebrows and even fists from advocates against the project. What we think should have happened before the issuance of Permit to Operate and Site Development Permit is to get the compliance of RP Energy, Inc. to the environmental Regulations and Emission Standards of the SBMA in order to determine the suitability of the entire Project Design in the chosen site. One of the main concerns aside from pollution effects and the threat to health and tourism industry is the amount of water draw-out rate that according to expert opinion will reach 1,600 cubic meters of water a day. If this is way above the natural recharge rate of the Redondo Peninsula, the damage to the sources of water is a serious environmental concern. Other locators in the same area that include Hanjin Industries need water as well. The SBMA Ecology Department having failed to submit a complete Environmental Standard for Coal Power Plant notwithstanding the 5 years since the MOU was signed is in no position to approve and recommend the project.

The second issue is the joint venture aspect that is now nowhere to be found and the provision for lower power rate to the Subic Freeport Zone have not been finalized and yet the project was allowed to continue. Again these should have been done ahead before permits are issued.

Kung walang joint venture with SBMA and walang guarantee for lower power rates ano ang pakinabang natin sa Power Plant. May tax holiday pa sila being within the Economic Freetrade Zone at renta lang sa lupa sa napakamurang presyo ang pakinabang sa kakaunting employment opportunities after the construction?

Third, we believe that prior to the issuance of a Permit to Operate as in normal government system, the following should have been secured first: Permit to Site Develop, Permit to Build, Permit to Occupy. And only when all safety and design requirements are satisfied that a Permit to Operate is issued.

Bakit minamadali? Ito ba ay ginawa bago umupo ang bagong SBMA Board tulad ng mga midnight appointments?

Last but the most important is the process by which Social Acceptance that the SBMA, DENR and the affected LGUs should undertake on it’s own and not by the Proponent alone. There is no genuine Social Acceptance that happened.

On the basis of the above and on the grounds of environmental danger not only within the immediate vicinity but also with Global Warming that is seriously caused by similar coal power plants worldwide, the health hazard with the resulting diseases that will be more costly for the government to shoulder more than the income it can generate in terms of taxes from such project, and threat to the eco-tourism industry which is the main feature of Subic Bay Area we hereby submit the Resolution passed by the various Civil Society Organizations and other LGU resolutions demanding the cancellation of the project.

Comes with demand for cancellation is the people’s endorsement of alternative and cleaner power sources such as the Wind Turbines along the Zambales mountain range facing China Sea that will surely generate Tourism as what is being experienced in Ilocos Norte and the Solar Power Energy that is also proposed and already with a project site within the Pastolan village, IP ancestral domain. Serious studies is being undertaken by the proponent.

COAL POWER PLANTS should not be a priority source of power generation specially for Subic. According to experts in renewable energy, it is technically feasible for the Philippines to achieve a realistic target of at least 50% RENEWABLE ENERGY source by 2020. With 38% of RE generation in 2010 already. While Luzon can only muster 45% of RE generation by 2020, Visayas can deliver a whopping 85.61%, of which geothermal takes the biggest slice, followed by hydro and equal doses of solar, wind and biomass. Mindanao can increasingly rely on more RE with more than 77% generation in the same period.

Therefore Coal Power and Nuclear Energy source comes last in the strategic road map of energy resources. The study conducted by Greenpeace on the Commercial and scientific data on RE are available for your study.

Today, the 6th of June, Rep. Walden is expected to deliver a privilege speech and file a resolution against the project. We have made an appeal for congressional inquiry about the whole matter and that the old members of the SBMA Board be held accountable if proven to have entered into anomalous transaction with the RP Energy, Inc. and other proponents of power plants in Subic.


Alex Corpus Hermoso
Lead Convener, Zambales-Olongapo Civil Society Network

Notes on pollutive effects of Coal-fired Power Plants submitted to the SBMA Baord

Toxic coal ash, much of which ends up being stored on site at the plant either in a “dry” landfill or “wet” sludge pond. This so-called coal combusion waste is known to leak from the landfills into groundwater or spill into rivers when a sludge pond breaks.

Both mercury and selenium are well-known contaminants of coal burning for power generation. We should be concerned about fish caught in areas that are situated close to coal-fired power plants. Ingestion of fish with high levels of mercury has been linked to neurological and developmental problems and birth defects.

Coal plant could emit thousands of tons per year of ³criteria² pollutants: 944 tons per year of Nitrogen Oxides (³NOx²), a principal contributor to acid rain and formation of ground-level ozone and PM2.5; 443 tons per year of Sulfur Dioxide (³SO2²), which in combination with NOx, causes acid rain and regional haze; 1,117 tons per year of carbon monoxide, which exacerbates heart conditions and impairs central nervous system function; and 366 tons per year of particulate matter smaller than 10 microns (³PM10²), which causes serious heart and lung problems.

Of particular concern all 366 tons of PM10 to be emitted from the coal plant will, in fact, be comprised of PM2.5, the smallest and most dangerous class of particulates or ³soot² regulated under the NAAQS. PM2.5 consists of microscopic solid or liquids particles that lodge deep into the human lungs. Based on extensive peer-reviewed research published over the past ten years, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (³EPA²) has recognized that even short-term inhalation of PM2.5 is linked with premature mortality, heart attacks, and respiratory diseases, including lung cancer and asthma. In an effort to reduce PM2.5-related hospital admissions and deaths each year, EPA has recently set more stringent NAAQS for PM2.5, reducing the former 24-hour maximum standard by nearly half, from 65 micrograms per cubic meter (µg/m3) to 35 µg/m3.

Further, a coal plant would emit hazardous air pollutants, including radionuclides such as radon, and toxic heavy metals.


Olongapo Zambales Civil Society Network

Resolution No. 1
Series 2011


Whereas, Redondo Peninsula Energy Inc. a joint venture between Aboitiz Energy and a Taiwanese company is proposing to put up 2 X 150megawatt coal-fired power plant in Sitio Naglatore, Barangay Cawag, Subic, Zambales;

Whereas the presence of coal-fired power plant in Subic Bay would generate negative perception and impact in the clean, pristine image of the environment- the idyllic mountain ranges, clear water and affable people which are the core selling points of Olongapo City, Subic Bay Freeport Zone and the provinces of Zambales and Bataan;

Whereas, the proponents of coal-fired power plant assures relatively low emission and the lowest environmental impact possible. Even so, it does not discount the fact that the harmful emissions will definitely affect lives and the livelihood of communities in the next 50 years. There must be no tolerable and acceptable levels of pollution so as not to compromise the health and welfare of environment and the communities;

Whereas, the use of coal and other fossil fuels contribute to the global warming, pollution and environmental degradation. As a matter of fact, China is suffering from the ill effects of years of using coal as energy, with an estimated of four hundred thousand (400,000) premature deaths every year and increasingly worsening air quality. China is now switching to renewable, green source of energy. In the United States, there are even scientific studies showing that the high mercury emission levels from coal-fired power plants have direct links to autism and mental retardation;

Whereas, although a cheap source of energy, the long term effect of coal-fired power plants on our community will prove costly, triggering massive respiratory infections and diseases, promising to add to the present economic burdens of escalating prices of basic goods, commodities and fuels;

Whereas part of the requirements in the issuance of Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is the social acceptance of a proposed project by the affected stakeholders of the community;

Whereas, after diligent analysis of the presentation of the proponent vis-a-vis the concerns and studies of various environmental groups, health experts, socio-civic organizations, business entities, marine scientist and tourism stakeholders, the OZCSN believes that the grim environmental and economic impact of a coal-fired power plant in Subic Bay is long lasting, far outweighing its perceived and unproven benefits to our local economy which ironically relies heavily on tourism;


NOW, THEREFORE, with the unanimous accord of the Members of Olongapo Zambales Civil Society Network ;

RESOLVED, AS IT IS HEREBY RESOLVED, by the Olongapo Zambales Civil Society Network member duly assembled during its regular meeting on May 6, 2011 held at PREDA Center, Olongapo City, as it hereby expresses its objection to coal-fired power plants as energy source and urging the proponent and the SBMA to consider safer alternative sources of energy for Subic Bay such as the proposed Wind Turbine Energy and Solar Power Energy.

Let a copy of this resolution be furnished to Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) Board of Directors

____________________________ ___________________________
Alex Corpus Hermoso, PREDA Alma Bulawan, Buklod

____________________________ ___________________________
Anna Leah Escresa- Colina, EILER Ricky Ebbay, CBR

____________________________ ___________________________
Gary Hernandez, ANAKPAWIS Rodelio Carias, SJCCFI

____________________________ ___________________________
Arcel Dabu, AKBAYAN Sonny Valdez, KAAGAPAY

____________________________ ___________________________
Danilo Zabala, TREES


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