Sabah coal-fired plant 'far from eco-friendly'
Joseph Sipalan, Jul 27,2010:
raised in the detailed environmental impact assessment (DEIA) report for
the coal-powered plant in Lahad Datu, Sabah, could mislead the public into
believing it is eco-friendly, said activists.
Environmental NGO coalition Green Surf claimed that the DEIA does not make
a fair comparison of the site of the proposed 300MW facility in the Dent
peninsula, with similar locations elsewhere.
WWF-Malaysia, a member of Green Surf, said the report is inaccurate in its
assessment of coral density in the Dent peninsula, which is high for mud
flats at 16 percent area coverage.
Borneo programme chief technical officer Rahimatsah Amat said that -
unlike coral ecosystems such as that around Tioman Island, cited in the
DEIA for comparison - mud flats are soft sediment seabed areas which are
not commonly known for having reefs.
"Comparisons are made with coral ecosystems, not to similar habitats, and
are therefore misleading," he said.
Green Surf, which stands for Sabah Unite to Re-Power the Future, conducted
its own survey to verify claims in the DEIA.
It noted that divers and professional photographers who checked sampling
sites mentioned in the report also discovered unidentified corals not
commonly seen in other dive locations.
could indicate that there are species that have yet to be discovered,
making it an area of high priority for conservation, but this was not
highlighted in the DEIA report," the coalition said in a statement.
It insisted that the mud flats in the Dent peninsula make up rare and
unique ecosystems that can be found only in few pristine areas throughout
the world, and that these face irreversible damage if the federal
government goes ahead with the proposed power plant.
Green Surf also pointed out many discrepancies in the DEIA, pointing to a
lack of depth in assessing the true environmental impact of the project.
'Flaws in study'
In a 14-point summary of comments on the report, Green Surf said the
sampling did not cover nearly enough sites in the area to give a full
understanding of the site and its surroundings.
two days were spent to assess the marine area, with no reason given as to
why certain sites were selected for sampling, it said.
Green Surf went on to question why the report does not mention nearby
Darvel Bay, which is home to resident and migratory marine animals such as
turtles, whale sharks, dolphins and the dugong.
It criticised the report for including animal and marine species that
either do not represent the local biodiversity or are simply not found in
"In its list of mammal species, the report stated two mammals that are not
present in Sabah. The two are (the) wild pig (Sus scrofa) and Dusty Langur
(Semnopithecus obscurus). In its list of bird species, the white-rumped
shama is not present in Sabah.
species used in the report as indicators are not representative of species
found at the site. The species list should have been modified to cover
locally common, unique or commercially important species."
Drawings of the plant attached to the DEIA report were allegedly lifted
from the rejected coal- powered plant project in Silam, also in Lahad Datu.
On the socio-economic study in the DEIA, Green Surf said it doubts the
veracity of the findings because the report describes the community in Kg
Sinakut - located near the site - as 'squatters' although this is a
traditional village with a village head.
"The DEIA also states that the 'Orang Sungai' are of Indonesian descent.
This clearly shows ignorance on the part of those (who carried out) the
study," the coalition said.
The proposed plant is the third incarnation of the project, which had been
rejected twice on environmental grounds. The first was proposed in Silam
in 2007 and the second plan came up two years later in Seguntor, Sandakan.
Green Surf would like as many people as possible to write in to the Sabah
Department of Environment before the deadline for feedback on the DEIA
expires on Saturday.