Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Residents near coal-fired power plant to leave their homes

Residents living near the almost completed coal-fired power plant in Kawthaung Township in Tanintharyi Region in southern Burma say they will abandon their homes and move before the power plant goes into operation in June. A trial run of the plant will begin on April 10.

They are concerned about potential health problem linked to the coal-fired power plant. A total of about 70 people living in 50 houses in the Aye Yeik Nyein quarter say they will move. 

A resident said, “All people from our quarter objected to the power plant. We’re concerned about dangerous consequences.” He said local residents would continue to cooperate with the Democratic Party – Myanmar [DPM] in opposing the operation of the power plant.

The power plant, designed to generate 8 megawatts of electricity, is located between Aye Yeik Nyein quarter and Shwepyitha quarter. It is located 50 feet away from some homes. The height of its chimney is just 40 feet. About two furlongs from the power plant is a reservoir that provides drinking water for Kawthaung.

The Than Phyo Thu mining company started work on the power plant in mid-2011. Residents say it is about 95 per cent completed.

On Thursday, DPM members will distribute leaflets to educate local residents about the harmful consequences of a coal-fired power plant, according to Than Tun, the DPM campaign manager in Tanintharyi Region. Ten thousand leaflets will be distributed in Kawthaung Township and posters displayed in every quarter, he said.

Than Tun said the party had sent a letter about the harmful consequences to the Regional Chief Minister Office requesting a permit for their education campaign, but it has had no reply so far.

“Even if the chief minister doesn’t grant the permit, we will distribute the leaflets,” he said.

The DPM made formal objections against the power plant in October 2010 and on March 1, 2012.

The coal for the power plant will be supplied from the Bokpyin Township coalmine in Kawthaung District. Water needed to operate the power plant will be pumped from the Pachan River near the Thailand-Burma border.

In early January 2012, the Burmese government ordered a suspension on work at 4,000-megawatt coal-fired power plant project in the Dawei deep-sea port project that is being carried out by the Italian-Thai Development Plc, after the residents and environmental experts opposed the project.

A coal-fired power plant can emit carbon dioxide and sulphur dioxide, which can cause acid rain, and tiny particles that can cause respiratory tract cancer. It could also emit other elements such as carbon monoxide, mercury and arsenic, which can pollute drinking water and sea life, say environmentalists.