Friday, January 4, 2008


Power plant in aquaculture area, says Rahim
Power plant seen as a threat to caged fish farms
KOTA KINABALU: The site for the proposed coal-fired power plant in Silam, Lahad Datu is located in an area earmarked for developing the aquaculture industry, said Agriculture and Food Industry Minister Datuk Abdul Rahim Ismail.
Responding to the concern on the possible environmental effects to be caused by the proposed electricity plant, Rahim said his ministry had identified the area as included under the State's Aquaculture Zone but the decision whether the power project will go on is entirely up to the Cabinet.
He did not reveal whether the Ministry had identified any possible adverse effects on the fishery industry in the area if the project materialized.
"We have identified the area for developing the aquaculture industry and the State Government was aware of this. But the final decision, whatever it is, will be decided by the Cabinet," he said when contacted yesterday.
The Borneo Post on Wednesday highlighted the grouses of caged fish farm operators from Darvel Bay in Silam who were concerned over the possible water contamination if the proposed RM 1.3 billion power plant is allowed to be built.
Despite assurances from the developer and owner of the proposed plant that environmental friendly technology and equipment would be used to keep pollution at minimal and manageable level, the operators who have injected millions of ringgit into fish farming facilities in the area
are worried that the power plant will hurt their business.
One of the operators, Borneo Aqua Harvest, said the power plant is already hurting Darvel Bay fish farming industry even before it commences construction.
Its Chief Executive Officer, Datuk Lo Fui Ming, said many investors, including those from foreign countries like Indonesia, Japan, Hong Kong and Kuwait were interested in Darvel Bay fish farming but reluctant to put their money in after learning about the proposed power plant.
The 300 megawatt coal powered plant is estimated to generate 6,000 tons of sulfur dioxide and gallons of wastewater that would be released into the bay.
Sulfur dioxide causes acid rain that will threaten the first-class forest surrounding Silam while the waste released would increasewater temperature by up to 20‑25 F and greatly affects the sensitive marine life at the bay.
Operators and potential investors alike recognized Darvel Bay as the only place in Malaysia Where certain high market value fishes could be breeded and hatched but worried that the Government would put the urging need for more electricity above the conservation of priceless environment at the bay.
Fishery Department director Datuk Rayner Stuel Galid when contacted, declined to comment on the matter, saying the department did not have any information on the proposed power plant.