The tripartite panel considering the fate of the coal-fired power plant proposed for Krabi must reach a conclusion before the project’s environment and health impact assessment is considered, says the Office of Natural Resources and Environmental Policy and Planning (Onep).
Raweewan Bhuridej, Onep’s acting secretary-general, yesterday confirmed the office will suspend considering the EHIA until the panel has done its work.
The committee brings together the Energy Ministry, Krabi business sector, and civic groups, and comes after locals staged a huge protest outside Government House in protest at the plant.
“We want to ensure we have done our job transparently and without undue influence,” she said, allaying fears that work on the assessment report was still ongoing, even though the panel has yet to sort out the dispute.
Earlier, the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry’s permanent secretary Kasemsun Chinavaso said the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (Egat), the project owner, should withdraw the EHIA from the Onep.
Opponents say the plant project will destroy fishing communities, tourism and the environment near the plant.
They also suggested Egat turn to renewable energy development instead since the province has many palm plantations which could serve as the feedstock.
The Ministry of Energy and Egat argue the project is key to securing future power supplies in the South, where the rate of power consumption is increasing substantially.
Egat submitted the EHIA study on the 800-megawatt coal-fired power plant, planned for Krabi’s Nua Khlong district, in December last year.
An Onep expert committee in February raised questions on 17 main issues for the report, including alternative choices, waste water management, the impact on air quality from the coal-burning procedure, the impact on tourism and land use, ash management, health impacts on the community and public participation.
In July, Egat submitted a revised report for Onep’s decision.
Ms Raweewan said the office still has many questions about the “clean” technology claims made by Egat for the project.
Egat must ensure it chooses the best technology to prevent any environmental impact, she said.
“Actually, there is no zero-waste technology for a coal-fired power plant. The question is whether Egat is willing to shoulder high costs to prevent pollution problems and if it is really worth the investment.
“I suggest Egat keep an open mind and consider the locals’ proposals on alternative energy development,” she said