Monday, February 23, 2009

Review: Coal-fired power plant too close to popular beach spots

Front View: Jimah Coal Power Plant - Port Dickson, Negeri Sembilan, Malaysia.
Run by Jimah Energy Ventures Sdn Bhd

Above picture: Aerial photo of Jimah Power Plant (via JIMAH Gallery)

Quote via TheStar;
Monday February 23, 2009
Coal-fired power plant too close to popular beach spots

"IT does not take an environmental expert to point out that a coal-fired power plant should not be at the proximity of marine ecosystem."


But the threat looming over the Bagan Lalang beach in Sepang, Selangor, is real and one, which the StarMetro discovered traverses state boundaries.

The Jimah 1,400MW coal-fired power plant is at the border between Selangor and Negri Sembilan, in Port Dickson (PD) to be exact, which is a popular beach holiday spot.

Jimah is an independent power producer (IPP) set to fire up in July. The plant is owned by Jimah Energy Ventures Sdn Bhd (JEV) with 80% share and Tenaga Nasional Bhd (TNB) owning 20%.

JEV and TNB have drawn up a Power Purchase Agreement for 25 years.

"On a national scale, the Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) is riled as it has been actively monitoring the Bagan Lalang coastline and its interior rich with mangrove swamps and a forest reserve."

“Ships transporting coal to the power plant will disturb the marine ecosystems and cause the fish population to dwindle,” said MNS environmental education department head I. S Shanmugaraj.

At present, efforts are being undertaken to promote the eco-tourism potential of Bagan Lalang.

“The MNS plans to work with locals to promote village life through homestays so it is a shame for tourists to see a power plant with its jetty extending out to the sea,” added Shanmugaraj.

Sungai Pelek assemblyman Yap Ee Wah whose constituency extends to Bagan Lalang said the authorities should study the economic and social impact of projects like the Jimah power plant before giving it the green light.

“We don’t want a situation where the authorities act without getting the bigger picture and get blamed later when something happens,” he advised.

Bagan Lalang Federal Village Development and Security Committee (JKKP) chairman Tasirun Abd Majid said with Jimah’s 10km radius and proximity, fishermen would have limited area to fish.

Besides its eco-tourism potential, Bagan Lalang is hoping to make its mark through the RM3bil Sepang Palm Tree Water Villas project by Sepang Goldcoast Sdn Bhd (SGC), a joint venture company between Permodalan Negeri Selangor Berhad (PNSB) with a 30% stake and Sepang Bay Sdn Bhd.

“The development consists of 22km of shoreline with a majority of foreign property investors so we have our concerns,” said SGC president Ho Hock Seng.

If Bagan Lalang is foreseeing an ecological threat, the scenario is different for PD residents.

Coal produces approximately two times the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) as natural gas and a third more C02 per unit of heat than oil.

Port Dickson Residents Association (PDRA) president Maj (Rtd) Anthony S. Raj said thick smoke was spotted billowing from the plant during a test run recently, alarming residents.

“Strong winds cause carbon deposits from the mountains of coal stored in the storage yard of the plant to settle on houses.

“Imagine the smoke pollution once the plant starts to operate,” he pointed out.

He also said the PDRA was seeking to study the Detailed Environment Impact Assessment (DEIA) report on the plant to better understand the long-term implications.

Port Dickson assemblyman M. Ravi said residents of Lukut and Chuah, whose houses were closest to the coal plant had been voicing their fears over the plant since 2006.

“PD is a famous tourist spot so a coal plant mars our image as a holiday destination. Coupled with the impact to the environment, what is the rationale in having this coal plant?” he asked. For the record, the Tuanku Jaafar power plant is also in Port Dickson.

When contacted, a spokesman for JEV said the matter would be referred to the directors for comment.

In its website, Jimah stated that it was conscious of its environmental responsibility and that “each unit of the coal fired power plant project was equipped with a Flue Gas Desulphurization (FGD) plant, Electrostatic Precipitator (ESP) and low NOx burners which will minimise emissions to the permitted level”.

It was also stated that the “DEIA approval was obtained from Department of Environment (DOE) in January 2005.”


According to a Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) study:

“In an average year, a typical 500 MW coal plant generates:

  • 3,700,000 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2), the primary human cause of global warming -- as much carbon dioxide as cutting down 100 million trees.
  • 10,000 tons of sulfur dioxide (SO2), which causes acid rain that damages forests, lakes, and buildings, and forms small airborne particles that can penetrate deep into lungs.
  • 500 tons of small airborne particles, which can cause chronic bronchitis, aggravated asthma, and premature death, as well as haze obstructing visibility.
  • 10,200 tons of nitrogen oxide (NOx), as much as would be emitted by half a million latemodel cars. NOx leads to formation of ozone (smog) which inflames the lungs, burning through lung tissue making people more susceptible to respiratory illness.
  • 720 tons of carbon monoxide (CO), which causes headaches and place additional stress on people with heart disease.
  • 220 tons of hydrocarbons, volatile organic compounds (VOC), which form ozone.
  • 170 pounds of mercury, where just 1/70th of a teaspoon deposited on a 25-acre lake can make the fish unsafe to eat.
  • 225 pounds of arsenic, which will cause cancer in one out of 100 people who drink water containing 50 parts per billion.
  • 114 pounds of lead, 4 pounds of cadmium, other toxic heavy metals.
  • A 1,000 MW coal-fired plant could release as much as 5.2 tons of per year of Uranium and
  • 12.8 tons per year of Thorium. (A 500 MW plant would be expected to generate 2.6 tons of Uranium and 6.4 tons per year of Thorium).
The effects of coal are felt beyond the greenhouse gas emissions. Data from the EPA shows
that fossil-fuel (mainly coal) powered plants are responsible for ~two-thirds of SO2 emissions (a
major cause of acid rain) and 23% of NOx emissions in the United States.7 “Between 1985 and
2001, coal mining in Appalachia resulted in the loss of 7% of the region’s forests and buried
more than 1,200 miles of streams. In 2004, coal mines across the U.S. reported the release of
more than 13 million pounds of toxic chemicals, including over 300,000 dumped directly into streams and rivers. “An Oak Ridge National Laboratory study from 1978 (reaffirmed on the
ORNL website) notes that despite the fears over nuclear power, “Americans living near coalfired
power plants are exposed to higher radiation doses than those living near nuclear power
plants that meet government regulations” and that “This ironic situation remains true today.” 9
Coal plants produce approximately 130 million tons of solid waste yearly – approximately three
times the total municipal garbage in the US.

The cost of coal is felt directly on our health as well. The American Lung Association notes that a 2004 study attributed 24,000 premature deaths each year due to power plant pollution. In addition, the ALA notes that “research estimates over 550,000 asthma attacks, 38,000 heart attacks and 12,000 hospital admissions are caused annually by power plant pollution.”11 In the last century, more than a 100,000 deaths have been a result of mining, with over 200,000 black lung deaths. This is part of the burden of coal.


  6. “Big Coal: The Dirt Secret Behind America’s Energy Future”, Jeff Goodell


  1. A chicken thief and the Jimah power plant.

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