Groups seeks to stop Camiguin power plant construction

CAGAYAN DE ORO. Sulog chair Orlando Ravanera (in black top wearing glasses) raises issues for the stoppage of the ongoing construction of a diesel-fed power plant in Camiguin before the Environment Management Bureau-10 hearing officer Atty. Abbas Lao (in white top, right) in a meeting at EMB-10 office on October 14, 2014. (Joey P. Nacalaban)

A COALITION of environmental advocates asked on Tuesday a unit of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to issue a cease-and-desist order that would stop the construction of a 4.4-megawatt diesel-fed power plant in a 2.2-hectare land in Sitio Maubog, Barangay Balbagon, Mambajao, Camiguin.

Orlando Ravanera, chairman of the group Sulog, said the DENR’s Environmental Management Bureau in Northern Mindanao (EMB-10) should demand the project proponent to stop the construction citing two reasons that he believes legitimate grounds for the issuance of the order.

A report from the EMB-10 technical team that conducted an onsite ocular inspection showed the proponent has already started developing the area by putting up concretes fences doing some earthworks.

Ravanera said the 60-day provisional conversion order granted by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR-10) on April 21, 2014 to King Energy Generation, Inc. (KEGI), the company that is building the power plant, has already expired, "then the project proponent should have already stopped the construction pending the renewal of the conversion order."

He added a revised guideline would now require KEGI to apply for an Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) at the EMB-10, and the Certificate of Non-coverage (CNC) that the bureau has recently issued to the proponent should be voided.

Previously, the KEGI was given the CNC since the power that it will generate is below 5 megawatts, but under the new guideline it has to apply for an ECC since the minimum requirement for diesel-fed power plant has now been reduced to 1 megawatt.

Ravanera said that with these factors, the EMB-10 must not hesitate in issuing the cease-and-desist order.

Abbas Lao, EMB-10 legal officer, said during the technical conference at the EMB-10 office in Barangay Puntod Tuesday, that they would write to the EMB main office in Manila for appropriate action.

But Ravanera said the EMB regional office should now issue the order so that the ongoing construction at the site could be discontinued temporarily since the proponent has continued building structures in spite of the expiration of the DAR-10’s provisional conversion order.

Enforce the law

“The law is the law. Everybody must comply with it. We are not asking too much. The EMB has the authority to issue the cease-and-desist order, and there is no need for them to ask the central office for approval,” he told Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro in an interview Tuesday.

The role of the EMB central office, he said, is to intervene if there is an appeal from the KEGI to lift the order.

A representative from the KEGI, who requested anonymity since he is not authorized to issue a statement, said he will refer these developments to the company’s management and it is up to them to act on it.

The representative said the company has complied with all the necessary documents needed for the said project.

Adverse effect

Dr. Rabin Malazarte, an expert on power plant construction and operation, said the diesel-fed power plant in Camiguin is feasible, but it could have an adverse effect on the environment due to its toxic emissions, not including the noise pollution that it will produce.

Malazarte added the vibration caused by the movements of the generators during power production would reach as far as a kilometer away from the plant site.

“Daghan kaayo madaut ana,” he said, referring to the effects of the power plant.

If the need for stable power is short-term, the diesel-fed power plant is good, but it would help hasten the destruction of the environment since scores of barrels of fuel are being burned everyday just to keep it running to provide electricity to Camiguin.

The better solution to the power situation in Camiguin, he said, is the sourcing of power through a submarine cable that would connect the island-province to the grid.
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