Groups express concern over report on coal-fired plant
KOTA KINABALU, Nov 29, 2009: An initial environmental report on a proposed
300mW coal fired plant on the state's east coast has drawn concern from
various Sabah groups, who say it is full of shortcomings.
Among others, the Terms of Reference for the project at the Felda Sahabat
scheme appears to have ignored the long-term impact of the coal plant's
emissions into the pristine Darvel Bay.
This is especially important as several kilometres away from the proposed
coal plant site in the bay is a sea grass area that is the habitat for the
endangered dugong or sea cow.
Sabah Environmental Protection Association president Wong Tack said this
was one of the findings at a first review conducted on the project's Terms
of Reference at the Department of Environment in Putrajaya on Nov 24.
"The Terms of Reference showed there was no study carried out on the
cumulative effects of the coal plant emissions over a five to 15-year
"What is ironic is that the Darvel Bay is within the Coral Triangle
Initiative which Malaysia has pledged to conserve," he said here Sunday.
The Prime Minister had attended the summit on the Coral Triangle
Initiative, dubbed the "Amazon of the Oceans," in May and pledged USD1mil
(RM3.4mil) to its protection.
Wong said at the review, state government officials had also voiced
concerns that the emissions could have adverse impact on the Tun Sakaran
marine park and world renowned diving haven of Pulau Sipadan over the long
He said the Terms of Reference was also drawn up based on climate
conditions in the Tawau district - more than 200km away - and not within
the Tengku area, the proposed site for the coal plant.
Wong said this was critical as the Tabin Wildlife Conservation area - home
to Borneo Pygmy elephants, rhinos, orang utan and sun bears - was just
He claimed that the consultants responsible for the Terms of Reference
appeared not to have obtained feedback from state officials nor explored
any alternative to the coal plant.
"Yet, we have a natural gas fired plant in Kimanis coming up and while a
300mW biomass power plant is not practical, it doesn't mean we can't have
such smaller plants in the various districts," he added.
Wong was among three Sepa representatives at the review that was also
attended by officials from the Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment
Ministry, Wildlife, state Environmental Protection, Forestry, Fisheries
and Health Departments as well as Sabah Parks and the Lahad Datu district
Sepa was also representing Green Surf, which is a coalition of various
groups including WWF-Sabah, Malaysian Nature Society, Land Empowerment,
Animal and People, and Pacos Trust, at the review.
By RUBEN SARIO