Thursday, August 19, 2010

Environmentalists want Sabah to scrap coal plant

By Asrul Hadi Abdullah Sani
August 19, 2010

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 19 – A Sabah-based enviromentalist group has told the government to call off the proposed Lahad Datu coal-fired power plant after the Department of Environment (DOE) rejected the project’s detailed environmental impact assessment (DEIA) report.

Green SURF (Sabah Unite to Re-Power the Future) spokeman Wong Tack said that the state must take stand after DOE’s rejection of the report.

“We thank the DOE for carrying out their duty without fear or favour. Now that a federal agency has made such a decision, we hope that the state government too will take a stand.

“We should all collectively chart a new path towards clean energy that helps create jobs. Going into alternatives to coal, including renewable energy is a solution for Sabah,” he said in a press statement.

Green SURF is a coalition of five NGOs including SEPA, WWF Malaysia, Land Empowerment Animals People (LEAP), Malaysian Nature Society and Partners of Community Organisations (PACOS).

The DOE recently rejected the DEIA for the proposed 300-megawatt coal-fried plant in Felda Sahabat because many important environmental parameters in the proposed project were not addressed in the report.

The Malaysian Insider had previously reported that an environmental impact assessment on the proposed power plant stated that its construction stands to raise surrounding sea temperature by four degrees Celcius as well as damaging the livelihoods of local fishermen.

According to documents made available to The Malaysian Insider, the power plant near Kampung Sinakut, Lahad Datu, will also result in the loss of a traditional seaweed farming area measuring 4km.

Wong added that DOE’s decision was important as the state government had rejected DEIA’s first proposed site in Silam.

“The decision by DOE speaks volumes as the State Government had in April 2008 rejected the DEIA for the first proposed site in Silam, also in Lahad Datu, on grounds that it would have negative environmental and health impacts.

“Sabah Electricity Sdn Bhd’s proposal for a second site in Sandakan did not reach the DEIA level following strong objections from locals,” he said.

The 300MW plant worth more than RM1.3 billion was proposed to generate power supply to help spur development of the Palm Oil Industries Cluster (POIC) Lahad Datu.

The proposed power plant will have four power units, each having a net electrical output of 75MW, and will use the most widely-used method of burning coal to generate steam.

The documents made available to The Malaysian Insider also stated that the maximum total ash generation in the power plant is estimated at 49,000 tonnes per year.

The coal plant was initially proposed in Silam, near Lahad Datu, and Sandakan, but both were rejected by the state government following protests.

Lahad Datu is located within Tawau in eastern Sabah and occupies the peninsula on the north side of Darvel Bay. The district is also the gateway to the Danum Valley Conservation Area (160 km away), the Tabin Wildlife Reserve in the east (20km away), and Madai Caves in the south.
Source here

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