By Madelaine B. Miraflor
Alpha Water Realty Services Corporation (AWRSC), operator of the Masinloc coal-fired thermal power plant project in Zambales, could no longer continue with its expansion activities after the government issued a suspension order on the company.
A statement showed that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) suspended the expansion activities of AWRSC after several violations were found related to its reclamation activities within the Masinloc Oyon Bay Marine Reserve (MOBMR).
“We will review their compliance to our requirements while the suspension order is in place. We will not tolerate violators to continue their operations without facing consequences,” DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu said.
DENR Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (PENRO), led by its OIC Laudemir Salac, served the suspension order to Albert Altura, CEO of AWRSC and permittee of the Special Use Agreement for Protected Area (SAPA), and Johnny Tanis, plant manager of Masinloc Power Partners Company Limited (MPPCL).
The violations were discovered during a verification survey and site assessment made by the DENR within the area covered by the SAPA of AWRSC.
According to the DENR Team’s compliance monitoring report, AWRSC conducted unauthorized land reclamation on the mid-portion of the small craft jetty and seawall construction along the southwest of the plant.
AWRSC also failed to submit permits for its dredging and reclamation activities, for its construction of a seawall along the southwest of the plant and for the stockpiling of coal, conveyors, access roads and other functional plant facilities in the reclamation site.
The suspension order was signed by Jowell Dellosa, Protected Area Superintendent of the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) and Salac.
The order required AWRSC and MPPCL to stop all activities related to the said violations and to submit documents and permits relative to the reclamation and sea wall development activities and to rehabilitate the damaged portions of the MOBMR.
The DENR warned that failure to comply with the conditions will result to the termination of the SAPA and the filing of pertinent lawsuits.
Aside from the suspension order, the DENR will also refer the said violations of the AWRSC and AES-MPPCL to the Bureau of Fisheries an Aquatic Resources for appropriate action.
Salac said they are now reviewing AWRSC’s documents pertaining to reclamation and sea wall development activities.
Meanwhile, the PENRO has recommended to the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) to conduct water quality sampling within the MOBMR to find out the condition of the water in the protected area following the reclamation activities.