Naga households complain

Posted on November 13, 2012

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Residents near the 200 MW coal plant in barangay Tina-an, Naga City in south Cebu have complained anew about coal dust entering their homes.

In the past few months, home owners have been sweeping dust mixed with black coal specks off their floors and furniture.

Parents complained that their children were getting coughs and colds while the elderly suffered eye irritations, said Rodien Paca, president of the Naganian Awareness Against Pollution Association (NAAPA).

The suspected source is the coal yard of the Korean Electric Power Corp.-Salcon Power Corp.’s (Kepco-SPC), an open sided storage area that caused complaints in 2011 that prompted Gov. Gwen Garcia to temporarily shut down the site and demand anti-pollution measures.

Naga City Mayor Valdemor Chiong yesterday said he would bring the matter to the attention of Kepco-SPC officials although said he hasn’t received any complaints so far.

When Cebu Daily News visited barangay Colon yesterday, several residents showed the thick black dust in their floors and windows.

Even clothes hung out to dry were stained by black dust.

Sofas and tables were covered with plastic sheets to prevent dark stains.

“Kadtong Sabado sa hapon, while natulog ako anak sa sala, nakuyawan ko ay ang iyang nawong natabunan ug itom (Last Saturday, when my daughter slept in the living room, I was startled because her face was covered with thick black dust),” said resident Merlita Pelago.

“Kung mangaon mi, makit-an namo nga naay itom-itom sa gilid sa among plato,” (When we’re eating, we notice the black dust on the side of our plates),” said Anecita Paca.

She said children were brought to the doctor every week due to their constant coughing and sneezing from the coal dust.

No matter how often they clean, said Paca, they can’t get rid of the dust.

“Kepco is dusting us again because they are making open stockpiles of coal again. Their closed storage isn’t enough. We issued notices to them but it seems they don’t care anymore. They didn’t care to say sorry. No explanations were given,” she said.

Paca said they took photos to document their claims.
She said the problem recurred a few months ago when an open storage for coal was built behind the corporation.

Paca also said they complained to Kepco-SPC management and called the attention of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to no avail.

It still has to verified whether the black dust came from the smoke stack of the 200 MW coal plant or coal supplies in the coal yard.

Ecology advocates like the Cebu-based Philippine Earth Justice Center have sued Kepco-SPC over alleged indiscriminate coal ash disposal.

Aside from opposing the operation of coal-fired power plants because its use of the “dirtiest fuel” or coal, green advocates warn about the health risks.

Coal ash, the byproduct of coal combustion, contains toxic trace chemicals of mercury, chromium, lead, selenium, arsenic and boron.

Burning coal also releases toxics like sulfur oxides and nitrogen oxides.

The center said mercury found in coal poses particular risk to children, infants, and fetuses.

Health effects include nervous system damage and developmental defects like reduced IQ and mental retardation. /Joy Cherry S. Quito, Correspondent with Correspondent Carmel Loise Matus

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