By LITO RULONA
THE committee on environmental protection and ecology of the provincial board would likely start a fresh investigation into complaints against the Minergy Power Corp.’s coal-fired power plant in Balingasag, Misamis Oriental.
The committee’s chairman, provincial board member Gerardo Sabal III, said this following the disarming of Minergy’s guards by New People’s Army (NPA) rebels on Monday morning.
Sabal said the previous provincial board, as a committee of the whole, looked into the complaints on alleged pollution against the 165-megawatt power plant by residents of Barangay Mandangoa, Balingasag, but the results of the investigation were never released.
He said he would ask the provincial board, under a new leadership, to make its findings known.
Sabal asked the provincial board secretary to inform members of the local legislature about the result of the investigation.
If not, the provincial board’s environment committee would conduct a fresh investigation into the complaints against the power plant, according to Sabal.
Sabal said he remembered the provincial board discussing the complaints as early as two years ago. He said provincial legislators took the matter seriously and even conducted an on-site investigation.
Sabal said the provincial board, then headed by the then vice governor Jose Mari Pelaez, did not release its findings or furnish complaining villagers of Balingasag an investigation report.
The NPA has accused Minergy of being a source of pollution in eastern Misamis Oriental, the reason it claimed it carried out an operation to disarm Minergy’s guards on Monday. In a statement, the NPA said it was to teach the company a “lesson.”
Sabal said the villagers have long expressed worries about unusual rise in the temperature of the seawater near the power plant even as they blamed the firm for fish kills.
“Nahitabo na usab kini nga mga fish kill,” said Sabal, adding that even people living in the adjacent town of Lagonglong sought his help because of the alleged pollution.
He said villagers have complained, too, of foul odor allegedly emanating from the power plant as well as alleged noise pollution.
Sabal said even health problems and low agricultural productivity were being blamed by villagers on the power plant.
He said this week’s NPA operation was also a cause for worry even as he pointed out that security has been breached by the NPA.