This write up is just in from our friend Vince Cinches, Executive Director of Central Visayas Fisherfolk Development Center Inc. (FIDEC Inc.) in Cebu, Philippines. Vince together with other environmentalists in Cebu are fighting two concurrent fights. 1) A fight against the development of a proposed coal plant in Cebu, Philippines and 2) A fight against the dumping of coal ashes on an existing coal plant in the same region.
COURT MANDATED INSPECTION ON INDISCRIMINATE DUMPING OF COAL ASHES A SUCCESS.
Victory for environmentalists everywhere! Petitioners coming from the Philippine Earth Justice Center Inc. (PEJC Inc.) FIDEC Inc., FARDEC Inc. VCANN, and Community people we granted the first ever court mandated environmental investigation in areas affected by indiscriminate dumping of coal ashes.
Shows coal ashes dumped beside the river
The coal ashes or coal combustion wastes are being dumped beside rivers, farming areas, hospitals, residential areas, and in areas where artesian wells are found. In late 2009, the same petitioners, together with medical doctors, conducted health evaluation among the residents where high cases of upper respiratory, cardio related cases were recorded. Also during the same event, samples of coal ashes were taken under the supervision of the country’s leading toxicologist, Dr. Romeo Quijano, and a credible testing center showed that the coal ashes have high traces of toxics such as mercury, lead, cadmium, and arsenic.
Leading Cebuano Environmentalists, Atty. Gloria Estenzo-Ramos, Atty. Dante Ramos, and Atty. Benjamin Cabrido of the Dolphins Case, together with this author and Court Judge Atty. Yap, found out that the coal ashes were being concealed with limestone covers.
Shows coal ashes being concealed
Together with media personnel, the group concluded that dumping is indeed indiscriminate and the courts recently issued the second ever Temporary Environmental Protection Order in the whole country against the Korean Electri Power Company (KEPCO), temporarily disallowing the plant to dump it’s coal ash in areas near the facilities.
The community people hope that the court will extend the span of the temporary restraining order to permanent.
The Korean Electric Power Corporation in retaliation to the moves of the environmentalist filed a two million pesos damages suit against the petitioners, to whom they dismissed as pure harassment, and an act of desperation, and a SLAPP Case (Strategic Legal Action Against Public Participation) to which the new rules of procedure for the environment disallows.
Atty. Gloria Estenzo Ramos of PEJC talked to a media rep regarding the success of the activity.