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Court orders mediation to resolve coal landfill case 1/13/2012

A MEDIATION will be held to resolve the cases filed by ecology groups against a Korean power firm, the Capitol and the city governments of Toledo and Naga in relation to the operation of a coal ash landfill in Naga City.

The mediation proceedings set on Feb. 2 will be led by mediator Jose Ramon Carpio in Mandaue City, as agreed by the parties concerned.

The agreement was made during yesterday afternoon's hearing in the sala of Branch 28 Judge Marilyn Ligura Yap of the Regional Trial Court in Mandaue City.

A petition for the issuance of an environment protection order (EPO) is pending in court, after local ecology groups complained that coal-fired power plants in the cities of Naga and Toledo were “indiscriminately dumping” toxic coal ash waste.

Among the defendants in the environmental court case are the Capitol, Salcon Power Corp. (SPC), Korean Electric Power Corp. (Kepco), Cebu Energy Development Corp. and the local governments of Naga and Toledo Cities.

“The mediation center has no training on the rules of environment, but they know the basics of mediation,” Yap said in court. The preliminary conference of the case will be on March 23.

In yesterday's hearing, lawyer Guillermo Dabay of Kepco asked the court to lift the temporary environmental protection order (TEPO) in the Balili property in Naga City so they can dispose their coal ash waste.

Dabay told the court they are almost “drowning” in coal ash waste since their emergency silos are almost full.

He said they would be forced to shut down their operations if they have nowhere else to dispose of their coal ash waste.

Kepco spokesperson Boy Naval said they would only last for a “few days.” “The worst-case scenario is our operations will be constrained,” he said.

Kepco produces 120 metric tons of coal ash waste daily and supplies a maximum of 200 mw of energy in the Visayas grid.

The Kepco-SPC coal-fired power plant was inaugurated by President Benigno Aquino III early this year, bringing a total of 200 megawatts to Cebu’s power grid, which suffered frequent brownouts.

The Capitol’s 2008 purchase of the Balili property is under investigation by the Ombudsman’s Office as a “grossly disadvantageous contract.” /By Candeze R. Mongaya, Reporter

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