Con­cep­cion coal power plant de­nies ex­plo­sion

Panay News - - MAJOR STORIES - By Glenda Solo­gas­toa

ILOILO – Palm Con­cep­cion Power Corp. (PCPC) de­nied there was an ex­plo­sion or gas poi­son­ing at its coal-fired power plant in Barangay Nipa, Con­cep­cion town on the night of Oct. 29.

In a state­ment is­sued yes­ter­day, PCPC’s Ma. Cristina Ca­bal­hin, vice pres­i­dent for cor­po­rate af­fairs, clar­i­fied that the coal-fired power plant was un­der­go­ing pre­ven­tive main­te­nance, thus not op­er­a­tional.

The plant shut down on Oct. 21 yet. It won’t be op­er­at­ing for about a month un­til all pre­ven­tive main­te­nance works are com­pleted, stressed Ca­bal­hin.

On Sun­day night as main­te­nance work was on­go­ing at the coal-fired power plant, there was a sud­den out­flow of fly ash in one of the ash cham­bers be­ing cleaned.

“This caused cloud­ing that was mis­taken by nearby res­i­dents as smoke com­ing from the plant,” Ca­bal­hin ex­plained.

As an im­me­di­ate safety mea­sure, ac­cord­ing to PCPC, res­i­dents near the coal-fired power plant were im­me­di­ately evac­u­ated.

Fly ash, also known as “pul­ver­ized fuel ash”, is a coal com­bus­tion prod­uct com­posed of fine par­ti­cles. In mod­ern coal-fired power plants, fly ash is gen­er­ally cap­tured by par­ti­cle fil­tra­tion equip­ment be­fore gases reach the chim­neys.

Ac­cord­ing to re­ports, some Barangay Nipa res­i­dents com­plained of chest pain and the Mu­nic­i­pal Health Of­fice had them checked.

Find­ing that the res­i­dents were all in good health, “they were sent home the next day…they were all safe and un­harmed,” stressed Ca­bal­hin.

Barangay Nipa had been host­ing a 135-megawatt coal plant for a year now.

In Au­gust, De­part­ment of En­vi­ron­ment and Nat­u­ral Re­sources re­gional di­rec­tor Jim Sam­pulna said his agency had a real-time mon­i­tor­ing of the coal plant’s emis­sions.

He urged the coal plant’s man­age­ment to con­stantly mon­i­tor the health of res­i­dents nearby.

“I also re­quested them to es­tab­lish a clinic for res­i­dents as well as liveli­hood op­por­tu­ni­ties,” said Sam­pulna.

Ac­cord­ing to the En­ergy Reg­u­la­tory Com­mis­sion, the emis­sions of PCPC’s coal-fired power plant were be­low pol­lu­tion lev­els.

ERC is the gov­ern­ment agency tasked to reg­u­late the elec­tric power in­dus­try and pro­tect the in­ter­ests of con­sumers.

“It is very well ad­mit­ted that power plants, es­pe­cially coal plants, some­times add to pol­lu­tion but in your case, you are be­low the pol­lu­tion limit set by DENR,” said ERC com­mis­sioner Geron­imo Sta. Ana dur­ing a visit to Con­cep­cion just this Au­gust.

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