Philippines: Coal-fired power plants make a toxic environment for kids

The protection, preservation and nurturing of life is more than just an act of survival based on instinct as it is with the animal kingdom. For human persons it is a rational balancing of alternatives as to what action is best to take in any given situation. The fact we have free will to choose a way of life that will save life rather than destroy or damage or endanger it would seem a very rational and morally right thing to do.

But not all humans will agree on what is the right course to take, the best thing to do in various given situations and competing opinions and interests can result in conflict if reason does not prevail. So it is morally reprehensible to spread toxic waste in a neighborhood, cut the trees that will result in landslides that can bury hundreds of people or build a poison factory in a pristine environment. The poison fumes and waste from such a facility will contaminate the air and environment and is very life threatening to those living within its vicinity. Rational moral people would not even think of it.

But there are educated and intelligent humans who are hell bent on willfully ignoring scientific truth about the clear dangers of coal burning power plants, a monster belching mercury, sulfur and heavy metals and deadly chemicals into the air and the environment on the shores of beautiful Subic Bay.

The officials of R.P. Energy, a Philippine conglomerate, composed of eminent intelligent business people are allegedly doing just that. They are pushing for the construction and operation of a coal-fired plant on Subic Bay. If you live near one anywhere in the world you are in a danger zone. A panel of experts has determined that the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) required by law was done improperly and was inadequate. It ignored many important factors and impact zones.

Were the former officials of the Subic Bay Metropolitan authority (SBMA) complicit in allowing it to go forward? What consideration persuaded them that it was a rational and good thing to do despite the uproar and strong opposition to it? Their approval and Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is rife with serious imperfections experts say. It may be cancelled by the new board of directors and a new proper one be conducted.

The eminent professionals have been consulted and have made research and submitted their results. They say in the newly released report that the conditions are not present to merit the operation of the coal-fired plant or could assure that the natural assets and ecosystems in the adjacent Freeport and rain forest: "would not be duly compromised, or irreversible damage would not occur and that the threats to the flora and fauna within the immediate community and its surroundings would be adequately addressed".

They said: "the proposed coal plant would pose a wide range of negative impacts on the environment, the ecosystems and human population within the impact zone". They mentioned the damage caused by acid rain to the rain forest, acidification of the bay, sulfur, nitrous oxide, mercury and lead in the atmosphere that it "would adversely affect the health of the populace in the vicinity".

They stated: "that the warming and acidification of the seawater in the bay, resulting in the bio-accumulation of contaminants and toxic materials which would eventually lead to the overall reduction of marine productivity".

With all this accumulated evidence that the coal-fired power station will be a prodigious polluter and a toxic terror still got the go ahead by the previous board is shocking.

The report means that if the plant goes ahead the visionary plan of the new administrator Robert Garcia, to convert the little used sea-side airport area across the bay from the proposed coal-fired plant into a "Family-oriented integrated international destination", will be dead in the water.

Who will bring their children to a toxic dangerous environment to play, or take to the proposed golf-links, or swim in the bay rife with deadly mercury and chemicals? No one!

Spero columnist Rev. Shay Cullen is a founder of PREDA.org, a nonprofit based in the Philippines dedicated to ending the exploitation of children.
 

The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author only, not of Spero News.

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