The Department of Environment and Natural Resources has cleared San Miguel Corp. of any liability or wrong doing on the reported ash and oil spill incidents at a Bataan complex, according to president Ramon Ang.
Last week after residents complained of “ashfall that made them sick”, the regional office of the Central Luzon Environmental Management Bureau ordered SMC to stop any activity inside its coal power plant in Bataan as well as the Petron Bataan Refinery to stop dumping newly-generated bottom ash in the area.
Ang said that the oil spill happened over six months ago, “on July 9, 2016, at the Bataan Thermal Power Plant owned by NAPOCOR (National Power Corp.) Contractors of the DPWH (Department of Public Works and Highways) accidentally damaged its pipeline.
The damaged pipeline was about five kilometers from Petron Refinery and Ang said the company was “surprised that we received a cease and desist order last Friday”.
Ang in a briefing held in Pasig yesterday, also told reporters that the alleged “ash spill” was not coal ash but limestone powder.
The limestone powder he said, does not endanger the health of people living near their oil refinery and power plants as well as the Alangan river in the area.
“The local government thought that it was coal ash but it is limestone powder. It is used as a cleaning agent, a material needed for toothpaste… We don’t even need to dump everything because we hold this for the cement plant,” he explained.
Ang also clarified that the limestone powder is produced by Petron’s 180 megawatts (MW) cogeneration plant and not from 4 Limay coal plants since the plant runs on diesel oil and not coal.
SMC said that Limay’s first unit operated first on January 2017 and it will still be using diesel until May 2017 while unit 2 will run on August 2017 as the plant is designed to suck all the waste heat; low pressure steam to be supplied to Petron refinery.
“(When it starts using coal,) bottom ash will be brought on the cement plant as raw mix to cook clinker so we will not generate waste. All CFB (circulating fluidized bed) plants even coal fired plant types will not generate bottom ash and fly ash since it is needed for cement plants. I am even urging all coal fired plants to coordinate with cement plants to utilize their ash (into good use),” Ang said.
SMC added that in order to solve the limestone dispersal, the DENR issued them with an ore transport permit so that they can haul the minerals directly to cement manufacturing plants so that it will not be stored in the area anymore.
“She (Lopez) said that the ore transport permit was given and was already coordinated with the PENRO (provincial environment and natural resources officer) so we can start hauling it out,” Ang claimed.
The official also said that local health officials also verified claims that residents are failing ill because of the refinery and the power plant is not true but was caused by the presence of poultry and livestock living with the residents.
“However, I told them that Petron and SMC will be addressing their medical needs free from any charge,” the SMC official further explained.
Lopez said she would exert all effort to ensure that the PBR and SMC “will comply with environmental laws and not cause people to suffer.”
“I am sure that Mr. Ang would not do something that would jeopardize a billion-dollar operation. I commit and make sure that you (the community) would be okay,” Lopez assured Limay residents.
She said the DENR would also coordinate with the Department of Health regarding the medical conditions reported by residents.