Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Sabah rethinks coal power plant

Star Online
Tuesday April 1, 2008

KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah government is having second thoughts over a RM1.3bil controversial coal fired power plant in Silam in the state's east coast.

Chief Minister Datuk Musa Aman said Tuesday that the Cabinet will discuss the proposed 300-megawatt coal plant at its meeting here Wednesday.

He was referring the power plant project to the Cabinet in the wake of opposition from environmentalists and other concerned groups who fear that the pristine nature of the renowned Danum Valley and Darvel Bay would be polluted by it.

"Hopefully we will come to a decision so as to advise the parties concerned whether to go ahead with it. This is important given all the complaints we have received," he said Tuesday.

Earlier Musa witnessed the signing of a credit arrangement scheme between state-owned Sabah Development Bank Bhd, CIMB Investment Bank Bhd and AmInvestment Bank Bhd totalling more than RM1bil.

The power plant proposed to be sited at the abandoned 128.7ha seafront Pacific Hardwood integrated timber complex is a joint venture between Tenaga Nasional and Yayasan Sabah, which have formed Lahad Datu Energy Sdn Bhd.

On Monday, Sabah Electricity Sdn Bhd with Lahad Datu Energy Sdn Bhd issued a notice seeking public comment on the project's detailed environmental impact assessment (EIA) report.

In asking for the written comments on the report, the Department of Environment stated that the public could review the EIA report of Ecotone Environmental Management Sdn Bhd from March 31 until April 30 and forward opinions to the department before May 15.

Villagers and the business community in the Lahad Datu district as well as the Sabah Environment Action Committee (EAC) have been opposing the project since it came to their knowledge in 2006.

The EAC's Lahad Datu chairman Wong Tack said the coal plant project was an unnecessary risk. He added that there had been worldwide opposition to coal plants due to various concerns over emissions such as sulphur dioxide causing acid rain, soot particles causing poor visibility and respiratory problems and carbon dioxide contributing to global warming.

Wong said despite arguments that modern coal-fuelled power plants were cleaner than those a generation ago, the group felt there was however no environmental agency capable of enforcing mitigating measures.

He said alternative sources of power generation should be considered due to Sabah's abundance of natural gas, rivers, wind and oil palm waste.

Wong said power from the mammoth Bakun dam in Sarawak could also be tapped for enterprises within Lahad Datu's palm oil industrial cluster (POIC).

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