Tuesday, January 10, 2017

DENR, Petron tangle on Bataan coal ash spill

Published January 9, 2017, 10:00 PM By Madelaine B. Miraflor and Myrna Velasco

The tension between Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and multi-energy firm Petron Corporation arose as they disagree on the true cause of the ash spill incident last week that allegedly came from the latter’s coal plant in Limay, Bataan.
The regional office of the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) in Central Luzon has ordered Petron Corp. to stop any activity inside its coal-fired power plant in Limay, Bataan in the wake of an ash spill that has reportedly caused several residents to fall ill last week.
It also directed the nearby Petron Bataan Refinery (PBR) to “stop from dumping newly-generated bottom ash” in the area while the ash spill incident is being investigated.
But Petron immediately lashed back at the DENR as it claimed that it was wrongly faulted for the incident.
“Reports of ash spill and tons of ash found along the coastline of a distant river, which is almost a kilometer away from our facility, is far from the truth,” the company noted. “Our ash pond is located within our facility and near our offices. It has the necessary regional and local permits from the DENR. (Our facility) is surrounded by dikes, and regularly watered to prevent dispersion”.
Petron added that the ash, accruing at the pond, had been certified non-hazardous by the DENR itself.
On purpose, the ash is being “used as raw material for our cement manufacturing plant,” it added.
Petron just recently took full ownership of the 140-megawatt coal plant that had been primarily serving the electricity requirements of its Limay refining facility in Bataan.
EMB, a line bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, is responsible for implementation of various environmental laws, rules and regulations, including Presidential Decree No. 1586 or the law establishing the Environmental Impact Assessment System that requires an environmental compliance certificate (ECC) to ensure that a development project will not cause adverse environmental impacts.

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