By EDWIN IYO
THE Minergy Power Corp. has claimed that marine life is healthy and thriving around its power plant in Balingasag, Misamis Oriental, contrary to allegations that it has become a pollutant.
In a statement sent to this paper, Minergy community relations officer Eduardo Tangonan III cited the results of an underwater survey that supposedly show that marine resources and habitat within the foreshore lease area of the power plant are “thriving and are in good condition.”
Tangonan said the same results also showed that soft corals were branching into colonies on the jetty’s columns, and schools of fish of various species were very evident.
These, he said, were “clear manifestations of the company’s efforts to safeguarding the environment.”
Tangonan did not identify the group or people behind the “underwater survey” but he claimed it was “conducted by reputable experts.”
The Minergy statement was released about a week after Vice Gov. Jose Mari Pelaez led a group in a dialogue in Balingasag where townsfolk complained about the alleged pollution blamed on the power plant.
Minergy denied that it has violated environmental, health and safety laws and rules as alleged by a group from Sitio Botoc, Mandangua in Balingasag.
“Minergy Power Corporation is committed to provide the Filipino people access to secure and reliable power while contributing to the development of communities as well as ensuring strict observance of the policies and regulations on environment, health and safety,” reads part of the Minergy statement.
Tangonan said that since 2013 when Minergy secured its environmental compliance certificate for its 3×55-mw circulating fluidized bed coal thermal power plant, the firm has been regularly monitoring the ambient air quality and water quality of fresh water sources and the Macajalar Bay through government accredited independent testing centers.
He also said the company is implementing a concealed coal-handling system, from unloading to storage until feeding, to prevent fugitive dust from dispersing within the plant premises.
“This means active coal stockpiles are being covered and conveyor lines are enclosed,” said Tangonan.
He said ash, a byproduct of the combustion process, is being prevented from suspending into and joining the air as it is arrested when it passes through the electrostatic precipitator.
“Collected ash will be transported to an impermeably lined in-facility ash yard while awaiting supply requirement from cement manufacturers as a production mix,” he added.
Tangonan said that as a mitigating measure, water is being sprayed over the ash yard on a regular basis for further dust suppression.
He explained that the Minergy plant’s ash yard is divided into four chambers, and once these get filled, it would be compacted, covered with top soil and planted with vegetation to eliminate the incident of suspended fugitive dust.
Tangonan said the power plant is sourcing its process and cooling water requirements from Macajalar Bay. With this set up, he said, it would not be competing alongside the community for the domestic, agricultural, and other use of fresh water.
He said, “The company is committed to ensure that the power plant’s operation is not a detriment to the marine resources and habitat of the bay. It is ensured that temperature rise of the water discharged back to the sea are within regulatory limits. As a practice, run-off water is being treated before it is discharged, as well.”
The Minergy plant is the first coal thermal plant of its kind in Mindanao to use sea water for its entire water requirements. It commenced commercial operation only this Sept. 1.