Tag Archives: San Miguel Corporation

Its not always what it CEMS.

20170308_075211What could be the objective of this coal-fired power plant for publishing its weekly air emission data in a nationally circulated newspaper? I find it quite strange and they even have to put it on the front page which calls for much public attention.  Given the nice green graphics, of course they do want to gain positive feedback about their emissions profile.

However, being the outlier in the population, with training and education on these matters, the first reaction from me is of course….”greenwashing”. In the first place, there is nothing exemplary or extraordinary about these air emission data.  It is very likely that the other coal fired power plants within the vicinity such as the ones in Zambales or Pangasinan have the same emissions profile and they also monitor their emissions daily through an integrated measurement and monitoring device known as the Continuous Emission Monitoring System or CEMS.

The CEMS is a mandatory legal requirement as specified in the rules and regulations under Republic Act 8749 or the Clean Air Act of the Philippines. How come the Bataan plant has to publish an inforgraphic about its own emission? How come the other coal fired power plants don’t?  Maybe the other coal fired power plants are not insecure or they don’t have the public relations team that were previously employed in a beer company.

After the Clean Air Act was enacted more than 17 years ago, thermal power plants have come a long way. I have seen the CEMS profile of natural gas plants and its way better than these figures. Prior to the entry of coal, almost two thirds of the power supplied in the Luzon Grid was natural gas, but with the trend towards coal plants that are “cheap and dirty “to operate.

Remember in school when we would show our fingernails to the teachers to check whether the fingernails are clean and trimmed? To a certain degree, showing your emissions data is just like showing the tips of your fingers. You could not see how clean and efficient your entire body is by the tips of your fingers.

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Filed under Corporate Social Responsibility, Environmental Audit, Environmental Impact Assessment, Environmental Management System, Greenwash, Pollution Control, Sustainability