AMID the hailstorm of controversy, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Northern Mindanao insisted the proposed biomass co-generation of the Cagayan de Oro Corn Products Corporation (CCPC) in Barangay Tablon, Cagayan de Oro City, is not a coal-fired power plant.

Engr. Rowena Dovato, head of the DENR Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) department, said the company was only proposing to expand the present capacity of its boiler to produce more steam to power their energy requirements.

“They want to expand their old boiler so it can generate more steam. They are not building a coal plant. The boiler is not even a coal plant,” Dovato said.

Dovato said CCPC has proposed to expand the capacity of their boiler from a rate of 200 tons a day to 300 tons a day.

“This will generate six megawatts of electricity of power which is a monetary incentive for the company and an assurance of dependable power supply,” she said.

The DENR issued Environment Clearance Certificate (ECC) on the proposed biomass co-generation plant last October 23, 2014.

In its plan submitted to the DENR, the corn products company proposed using woodcuttings, wood chips, nutshells and other waste products to fuel the boiler.

“They will only use coal during the rainy season when dried woodcuttings and wood chips will be in short supply,” Dovato said.

She said coal, Napier grass, and other alternative biomass fuels will only be used when there is a scarcity of supply of waste wood trimmings.

Donato said the company has been using waste wood trimmings to fuel the boiler for the past 20 years of its operations.

“Coal and other biomass fuels are only options if there is a shortage of waste-wood trimmings,” she said.

Donato said the extra steam generated by the boiler will power the turbine to produce six megawatts of electricity.

Cagayan Corn Products is a leading producer of corn, corn grits starch and corn by-products. It is the only starch manufacturing plant in North Mindanao.

The company became a center of environmental protests from nearby residents and activists over the foul smell emitted from its waste disposal facility.

It is facing opposition from local environments and activists again and this time on their planned bio-mass generation plant.

To resort to coal

Cagayan de Oro City Local Environment and Natural Resources Officer Edwin Dael doubts if the company will have enough waste products for its fuel requirements.

By his calculations, Dael said the company would need 2,000 to 4,000 hectares of land to plant Napier grass to meet its daily requirement of 300 tons a day for its boiler.

“They would eventually resort to coal for its stable supply. Then it will be a coal plant not a biomass co-generation plant,” Dael said.

Lolong Magallanes of Task Force Macajalar, an environmental group, said the company did not hold a proper consultation with residents of Barangay Tablon.

“The barangay council of Tablon and the City Council hastily endorsed the project approval without due consultation with Tablon residents,” Magallanes said.

Install most effective envi-tech devices

To allay the environmental concerns, Dovato said they have required the firm to install bag filters and electrostatic precipitator considered to be the most efficient environment technology.

She said bag filters with jet-pulse cleaning are mostly preferred dusting equipment and good for separating solids from gas.

On the other hand, Dovato said electrostatic precipitators prevent dirty flue gas from escaping from smokestacks.

She said they have set the emission s at 231 micrograms per normal cubic meters -- a requirement set by the DENR.

“There are other sets of requirements for sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and carbon monoxide to ensure the safety of Tablon residents,” Dovato said.

Dovato said the approval of the City Council for the biomass co-generation plant is enough to cover the requirement of social acceptability of the project.