03/12/2011 - MAYOR Valdemar Chiong of the City of Naga yesterday criticized the Kepco-SPC Power Corp. for failing to contain the dust emitted by coal being delivered to its newly built coal-fired power plants.
City residents have complained of black particles settling on their clothes, cars and furniture inside their houses.
Gerardo “Radi” Panilag, 51, who lives a kilometer away from the Kepco-SPC power plants, said the clothes that he had just washed turned black after some time.
“Grabe kung udto. Di makita ang karsada (At noon, you cannot see the road),” he said.
Sun.Star went inside the Kepco-SPC compound to get the reaction of Neal Quiones, reportedly the plants’ safety officer. Although allowed to enter the compound, Sun.Star could not interview Quiones as he has yet to confer with his superiors.
“I want all those who violated the law, especially the Clean Air Act, punished. They (should not) ignore our request for them to stop polluting our community,” Chiong said.
Chiong also accused Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) 7 officer-in-charge of being arrogant in dealing with the local government unit (LGU).
Concerned about the effect of pollution on the health of residents, Chiong said, he requested Arranguez to consult the local government unit before issuing an environmental compliance certificate (ECC) to the power plants, which have a combined capacity of 200 megawatts.
But the EMB official, he said, told him that under Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Memorandum Circular 001, a written endorsement from the local government is not a requirement in issuing an ECC.
“Even if LGU endorsement is not mandatory, Arranguez should have the courtesy of consulting us, especially since the people are complaining of pollution. Will DENR assign a director other than Arranguez who is arrogant?” Chiong asked.
Chiong said the DENR should consult local officials and residents in areas like Naga, where coal-fired power plants are located, before issuing the ECC.
The mayor noted that he has the authority to issue or revoke business permits to all establishments in the city.
But he said he will call for a meeting with Kepco-SPC officials on Monday to discuss ways to avoid the generation and spread of dust during delivery of coal.
He observed that the coal yard of Kepco-SPC is just along the highway so the wind could blow away the coal.
Environmentalists have been opposing the operation of the coal-fired power plants in Cebu.