EIA report on controversial coal plant flawed
KOTA KINABALU, July 29, 2010: The much awaited Detailed Environmental
Impact Assessment (DEIA) study on an area earmarked for a coal power plant
here is defective. Green Surf (Sabah Unite to Re-Power the Future) said
the DEIA failed to make a comparative study of similar ecosystems.
The environmental group said if the government went ahead with its plan to
build a coal power plant, Sabahís unique eco-system could vanish.
The Dent Peninsular where the coal plant will be sited is home to corals
and four different types of sea grass that are only found in mud flats,
said Green Surf in a statement.
The group highlighted this after carrying out an independent survey to
verify the DEIA report for the proposed 300 megawatt power plant at
Kampung Sinakut, Lahad Datu.
The mud flat waters at this area are presently clear, allowing for small
reef patches to grow.
As mud flats cover a large area, collectively reefs and sea grass in this
ecosystem are important for fish populations and nesting, Green Surf said.
WWF-Malaysia Borneo programme chief technical officer Rahimatsah Amat said
in reporting low coral diversity for the area, comparisons were made to
coral reefs in places like Tioman instead of another mud flat.
"Comparisons were made with coral ecosystems but not with similar
habitats, and is therefore misleading," he said.
Rare species of corals
WWF-Malaysia is a member of Green Surf, a coalition that includes Sabah
Environment Protection Association (Sepa), Land Empowerment Animals People
(Leap), Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) and Partners of Community
Rahimatsah said the reportís finding that the current 16 per cent of coral
coverage is considered high as it is a soft sediment seabed area, not
commonly known for having reefs.
Green Surf further noted that divers and professional photographers who
checked sampling sites mentioned in the report, also discovered corals
they were unable to describe, and those not commonly seen at other dive
"This 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.
"They also saw lobsters and a variety of fish in pristine waters which
fall under the Coral Triangle and Sulu Sulawesi Marine Ecoregion," it
Green Surf also said at another site close to the proposed electricity
plant, mangroves run into coral reefs, a rare gift of nature that could
create eco-tourism spin offs for its outstanding scenery.
By Queville To (27/7/10)