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KEPCO confident on coal dust measures in the Philippines

Protective measures are being put in place by the Korean Electric Power Company (Kepco) to mitigate and prevent more incidents of coal dust affecting residents living near its power plant in Naga City.

Last November 13, the Naga city government issued a cease and desist order (CDO) to Kepco for the loading and unloading of coal, after at least 10 residents from Barangay North Poblacion here complained of coal dust being blown into their homes.

According to Victorio Naval, Kepco’s General Manager for the Committee on Relations and Environment, the CDO was lifted yesterday after the plant submitted its action plan.

In a meeting with Governor Gwendolyn Garcia last Nov. 15, Thursday, Naval said that due to the preventive maintenance shut down on one of Kepco’s plants, the company’s stocks of raw coal have piled up and strong winds became carrier agents for dust to affect nearby houses.

He assured Garcia that the plant will be using fine-holed mesh or nets to contain coal in Kepco’s yard. This will be similar to what the power plant has done to contain coal ash. However, Naval said such netting will only be for short term use.

“We will have to continually improve the facility. We have to check the integrity of the immediate solution then evaluate for long-term action,” he said.

Garcia gave the power plant a month to finish said mitigation measures.

As this developed, Naga City on Thursday lifted the cease-and-desist order Mayor Valdemar Chiong issued against the power plant after it submitted an action plan to reduce coal dust pollution which had set off complaints from nearby households.

Chiong said he found the action plan “satisfactory” and that Kepco-SPC Power Corp. president and CEO Bong Joo Choi has committed in writing to take immediate steps to solve the dust particles emanating from the plant’s main coal yard.

The plan includes lowering the height of coal stockpiled in an open yard, and hiring a street cleanup team each time coal is unloaded on site, as well as holding quarterly consultations with three nearby barangays, Colon, Tangke and North Poblacion.

Subsequently, Kepco was allowed to resume unloading and transporting coal for its 200-megawatt plant in Colon.

Residents earlier complained that coal dust was entering their households again, soiling their furniture and clothes, and making children and elderly folk ill with cough and colds. A similar problem in March 2011 prompted Garcia to close the firm’s open coal stockyard for several weeks until it could improve its anti-pollution measures.

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