Ti­gyit coal plant looks to restart af­ter tests

Vil­lagers are ac­cus­ing lo­cal of­fi­cials of break­ing their prom­ises af­ter test op­er­a­tions at the plant in Ti­gyit vil­lage, Pin­laung town­ship, were con­ducted on Oc­to­ber 22.

The Myanmar Times - - Front Page - Yeemon­tun@mm­times.com YE MON

A COAL-FIRED power plant in south­ern Shan State that was shut down two years ago due to res­i­dents’ com­plaints may be re­open­ing, de­spite the op­po­si­tion of the lo­cal com­mu­nity, vil­lagers say. They are al­ready ac­cus­ing lo­cal of­fi­cials of break­ing their prom­ises.

Test op­er­a­tions at the plant, in Ti­gyit vil­lage, Pin­laung town­ship, were car­ried out on Oc­to­ber 22, ap­par­ently in ad­vance of a re­sump­tion of ac­tiv­ity. The state gov­ern­ment says the re­open­ing of the plant de­pends on the re­sults of the tests.

Vil­lager U Sein Thaung said yes­ter­day that the gov­ern­ment and the plant’s man­age­ment had failed to in­form res­i­dents about the tests. He said he and his neigh­bours still ob­ject to its re­open­ing.

“The com­pany should have told us they were go­ing to run tests, but they don’t care about us. And the Shan State gov­ern­ment told us they wouldn’t al­low the plant to re­open if we ob­jected. It looks like they broke their prom­ise.”

Ti­gyit was the first coal-fired power plant to be built in the coun­try, by Myanma Elec­tric Power En­ter­prise in 2001. Op­er­a­tions be­gan in 2005, un­der the man­age­ment of China Na­tional Heavy Ma­chin­ery Cor­po­ra­tion, with lo­cal com­pa­nies Eden Group and Shan Yoma Na­gar. The up­grad­ing work is be­ing car­ried out by Wuxi Hua­gaung Elec­tric Power En­gi­neer­ing, also of China.

Al­though the plant’s two coal-fired tur­bines have a ca­pac­ity of 60 megawatts each, it is es­ti­mated that their com­bined out­put is now only 60MW, ac­cord­ing to the Myan­mar Al­liance for Trans­parency and Ac­count­abil­ity (MATA).

Ko Moe, a mem­ber of MATA, said the gov­ern­ment should refuse per­mis­sion to restart the power plant be­cause the fumes from it will af­fect res­i­dents’ health and dam­age the en­vi­ron­ment. Ti­gyit is not far from Inle Lake, a ma­jor tourist at­trac­tion.

“The plant will re­lease pol­lu­tants into the air that would foul the at­mos­phere. We’re wor­ried that the gov­ern­ment might al­low the plant to re­open,” he said.

U Soe Soe Zaw, sec­re­tary of the Shan State gov­ern­ment, told The Myan­mar Times yes­ter­day that the gov­ern­ment had only agreed to al­low test op­er­a­tions to as­sess pos­si­ble ef­fects on the en­vi­ron­ment.

“The plant’s fu­ture de­pends on the re­sults of the tests. The com­pany must sub­mit a re­port on the ef­fects on the en­vi­ron­ment and the lo­cal pop­u­la­tion. If the re­sults are bad, the plant will stay shut,” he said.

The for­mer gov­ern­ment signed at least 11 con­tracts for coal-fired power plants around the coun­try with a num­ber of in­ter­na­tional and re­gional com­pa­nies. None of these projects has yet come on­line due to wide­spread op­po­si­tion by the pub­lic, lo­cal res­i­dents and en­vi­ron­men­tal groups.

Photo: Staff

A truck car­ries coal to the Ti­gyit fa­cil­ity, the first coal-fired power plant to have been built in the coun­try.

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