Dec 1, 09
The Sabah government has warned a coalition of environmentalists against continuing to publicise their anti-coal option campaign, insisting that they should "use the proper forum" to express dissatisfaction.
Since the weekend, Green Surf (Sabah Unite to Re-power the Future) and Sabah Environmental Protection Association (Sepa) have been selectively leaking the proposed terms of reference (TOR) for the Detailed Environmental Impact Assessment (DEIA) on the coal plant.
"Green Surf or Sepa should consider whether it is appropriate for them to air their differences (on the coal plant) in public and through the media, even before the TOR have been finalised," he said.
He conceded that "it is fair for the public to have access to the final TOR" but noted that these are still being drawn up at a series of meetings in Putrajaya and Kota Kinabalu.
"They (Green Surf) can forward their opinions and grouses during the next meeting (in Kota Kinabalu).
"Perhaps it would serve their interests more effectively if they refrain from making public, at this point of time, every one of their disagreements on the TOR. Instead, they should concentrate on arguing their points during the meetings."
"To engage in the media on the TOR even before these are finalised would make it even more difficult for the various parties to engage in a professional exchange of opinions.
"All parties should attend the meetings with an open mind. They should be ready to accept with humility that their preconceived notions on certain aspects may not necessarily hold water."
Masidi clarified that the DEIA report would cover water quality, wetlands, ecology, land use, solid waste management, hydrology, drainage, flood analysis, landscape and visual aspects.
Other issues are the terrestrial ecology, flora, fauna, biodiversity, conservation, marine ecology, fisheries, coastal process, phytoplankton, coral reef and sea grass, climate, air quality, air quality dispersion modeling, environmental cost benefit analysis, public and workers’ health, environmental health risk assessment, quantitative risk and hazard assessment emergency response plan, coastal hydraulic and hydrodynamics, and thermal and chlorine dispersion.
He denied Green Surf’s allegation that the TOR would be filled with "predetermined and conclusive statements without scientific backing, facts and figures".
Green Surf remained undeterred by Masidi’s "damage control" move, maintaining that "the TOR is sub-standard and totally unacceptable".
"The TOR appears to ignore the long-term impact of the proposed coal plant’s emission into the pristine Darvel Bay," said Sepa president Wong Tack.
He disclosed that Green Surf had three representatives – including himself – at a Department of Environment meeting in Putrajaya on Nov 24 and discovered that the TOR are being drawn up without external consultation.
"Given the various shortcomings in the TOR, these should have been rejected then and there in Putrajaya," stressed Wong.
"We are very concerned about the limited scope of study in the TOR. These should not have contained conclusive statements."
Wong also alleged that the TOR does not comply with the Sabah Development Corridor planning requirements or with other state guidelines, such as shoreline development, fisheries and tourism.
"Even state government representatives have voiced concern on the adverse impact of the emissions on the Tun Sakaran Marine Park and the world-renowned diving haven of Pulau Sipadan over the long term."
Green Surf alleged that a key weakness of the TOR is that these were based on climate conditions in Tawau, and not the proposed site near Lahad Datu, 200km away.
Tawau was the second site selected after the initial location in Sandakan was abandoned on a wave of public protests.
Popularity: 3% [?]