Villagers confront Mirant’s Pagbilao coal plant

"coal plants cost Filipinos up to US$2.5 billion a year"

Feature story - October 20, 2005
Pagbilao, Quezon, 20 Oct 2005 – Villagers from the province of Quezon today gathered in a solemn ceremony to seek justice and an end to the suffering caused by the Pagbilao coal power plant, which is owned by US-based Mirant Corporation.

Greenpeace activists and Villagers from the province of Quezon today gathered in a solemn ceremony near the norotious Pagbilao coal power plant, which is owned by US-based Mirant Corporation. Greenpeace released a study saying damages in terms of human lives, health, crops and climate change caused by coal power plants cost Filipino taxpayers up to US$2.5 billion a year.

Greenpeace activists and Villagers from the province of Quezon today gathered in a solemn ceremony near the norotious Pagbilao coal power plant, which is owned by US-based Mirant Corporation. Greenpeace released a study saying damages in terms of human lives, health, crops and climate change caused by coal power plants cost Filipino taxpayers up to US$2.5 billion a year.

On a hill overshadowed by the huge smokestack of the 735 MW Pagbilao coal plant, communities from several towns such as Agdangan, Pagbilao and Padre Burgos joined civil society groups as Greenpeace released evidence that the Pagbilao coal plant emits hazardous substances such as mercury, arsenic and lead.

The new Greenpeace research titled "Bringing Calamities to Communities: Coal-fired power plants and Mirant", also indicates that the external costs -the amount of damages to human lives, health, livelihood, crops, environment and carbon dioxide emissions that cause climate change -- of all coal power plants in the Philippines cost Filipino taxpayers up to a staggering 141 billion pesos($2.5 billion or Eu2.1 billion) a year.  The external costs of Mirant's Pagbilao coal plant alone reaches up to 27 billion pesos ($480 million or Eu400 million) annually, the second highest in the country. In contrast, wind energy, which is so abundant in the Philippines, exhibited the lowest external cost at 0.16 centavos per kilowatt hour produced.

In the ensuing religious procession, community members marched towards the Pagbilao coal plant and delivered a 10-ft cross at the gate in a gesture to ask Mirant to take back the burden its coal plant places on the people of Quezon and

the massive external costs Filipino taxpayers have to shoulder.

"We beseech you to stop this oppression, and stop the expansion of this coal plant.  We want accountability from Mirant and the government. They must show responsibility for the suffering of our people. Only if there's truth, justice and accountability can there be genuine hope for our country," said Rev Fr Raul Enriquez, Chairman of Kaakbay, the most vibrant civil society coalition in Quezon province.

"Blind to the damages," said Greenpeace, the Philippine government is allowing the expansion of  coal plants in the country, further slapping onto Filipinos up to 38.7 billion pesos (US$690 million or Eu587 million) of projected annual external costs. This includes plans by Mirant to expand its Pagbilao plant by 300 MW.

"There is no such thing as cheap coal, just as there's no such thing as clean coal. Greenpeace calls on the government to stop the expansion of coal in the country. Coal damages human lives, the economy and contributes to climate change, the gravest threat facing mankind today. Instead we should harvest our abundant clean renewable energy sources" said Red Constantino of Greenpeace Southeast Asia.

The Greenpeace flagship, Rainbow Warrior, has embarked on "The Asia Energy Revolution Tour" of China, Philippines and Thailand to call for an urgent break from coal and promote a massive shift to clean, renewable energy. Greenpeace is calling on the Philippine government to generate 10% of the country's energy supply from the sun, wind and modern biomass by 2010.

Greenpeace is an independent campaigning organisation that uses non-violent creative confrontation to expose global environmental problems and force solutions that are essential to a green and peaceful future.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Rev Fr Raul Enriquez, Chairman of Kaakbay, +639182615247

Red Constantino, Regional Climate and Energy campaigner, +63917 5241123

Arthur Jones Dionio, Regional Media campaigner, +63915 5379740

Photos and video footage available upon request. Visit: www.greenpeace.org.ph

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