Sunday, October 6, 2013

Fish cages near Sual power plant illegal

All of the new fish cages that mushroomed near the 1,200 megawatt power plant in Sual, Pangasinan were illegally built. This fact surfaced today (Friday) during a dialogue of stake-holders called by the provincial government to thresh out and resolve the contentious fish cage issue.
 Environment Management Bureau (EMP) regional director Joel Salvador revealed that his office issued an environmental clearance certificate (ECC) for a 10-hectare mariculture zone in the Caticlan Bay that can accommodate only 50 fish cages July of last year. No other ECC has been issued to any fishery project in the area ever since ever since. Nestor Domenden, regional director of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, informed the dialogue participants that from between 379 and 400 fish cages last year, the number had ballooned to 778 units in July of this year.
 “EMB can issue cease and desist orders on the illegal structures but we are not that brutal. We have to follow due process. Violators of the ECC law can also be slapped penalties of P50,.000 per structure, the environment official said. Explaining the side of the municipal government of Sual, mayor Roberto Arcinue said that he will secure ECCs for the new fish cages.
Arcinue, admitted though, that many of those fish cages do not have business permits. Asked after the dialogue what he will do to the illegal fish cages, those without business permits, Arsinue said he will flush them out. The controversy erupted two weeks ago when Team Energy, operator of the coal-fired power plant, warned the Sual town mayor, Governor Amado T. Espino and officials of the EMP, BFAR and the Philippine Ports Authority of the danger the fish cages posed on the continued operations of the plant. Plant manager Ruben Licerio, during the dialogue, presented photographs of the cooler facilities of the plant including those 30 feet underground to have been attacked by marine growth including mussels and showed solid traces of fish meals. He recalled that during typhoon Pepeng last year, the plant had to be put on emergency shutdown when bangus that escaped from the fish cages were sucked by the intake pump of the plant’s cooling system. A similar incident happened when tons and tons of jellyfish were sucked by the same pump occurred earlier that resulted in Luzonwide power blackouts. – (PIO)

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