THE Provincial Board of Misamis Oriental is seeking the assistance of other government agencies in validating the reported pollution brought by the 165-megawatt Minergy coal-fired power plant in Mandangoa, Balingasag town.

The Board led by Vice Governor Joey Pelaez, together with representatives from various government offices, conducted a public hearing and ocular inspection of the site, Wednesday last week.

Residents in the area have been complaining about the unusual warming of the seawater believed to be triggered by the power plant direct to the sea within 50 meters from the shoreline which also resulted to the alleged fish kill in the area.

"Ingon sila gikan sa planta naay init nga tubig nga ibuga gikan sa pipe paingon sa dagat kung asa bawal kana kay makadaot sa marine environment (They said the water being flushed out from the pipe to the seawater is warm, which is wrong because this will destroy the marine environment)," Pelaez said.

Residents also claimed a foul odor emanates from the power plant and a loud noise when it is operating.

Pelaez said residents have also cited a mountain of `toxic’ ashes from the plant's stock pile carried by the wind towards the houses, clothes, and farms within the vicinity of the plant.

An increase of health-related problems of residents and low agricultural productivity were also reported since the establishment of the power plant surrounded by residential area and rice paddies.

Pelaez said the complaints have started last September, this year but has yet to be addressed by the concerned agencies.

The province’s officials have learned that Minergy has a 20-hectare property in Quezon, Balingasag, where it would dump the ashes from the plant, even as the application for the environmental compliance certificate (ECC) for the facility is still ongoing.

Pelaez said the enforcement of independent divers to verify the warming of the sea could help settle the issue.

The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources in Northern Mindanao (BFAR-10) will be tapped to conduct a study on the cause of the alleged fish kill and to submit a report thereafter.

The Department of Health-Northern Mindanao will check the root cause of the illnesses such as the recurring asthma, LBM, dizziness, sore eyes and vertigo by some residents.

The Environmental Management Bureau will establish a monitoring system to ensure that Minergy operates within the standards prescribed in the ECC.

While the Department of Agriculture and the National Irrigation Administration will also determine and verify the alleged decrease in rice production of farms in the area.

Pelaez said a follow-up meeting will be conducted a month from now.