Wed, 01 Dec 2021 Today's Paper

Disruptive activities of a Coal Power Plant; ‘Norochcholai’ too hot for marine life

3 February 2021 01:12 am - 16     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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Norochcholai Power Plant

 

  • Kalpitiya Reef under serious threat
  • Norochcholai Coal Power Plant threatens to destroy coral
  • The coal ash and dust particles emitted from the plant pose a serious threat to the area’s agricultural crops as well as marine life
  • The release of water at a temperature of around 7 degrees centigrade (°C) to the sea by the coal power plant has led to the destruction of marine life in the vicinity
  • Norochcholai Coal Power Plant officials claim that the water is cooled prior to being released into the sea
  • A large amount of coal, similar to the quantity of a shipload, has been deposited on the seabed around Norochcholai

 

Whilst the world’s coral reef sanctuaries are facing the threat of being destroyed due to rising sea temperatures, local environmental groups have identified that the Kalpitiya Reef in Sri Lanka – also known as Bar Reef – faces the threat of being destroyed not as a result of rising ocean temperatures, but due to activities of the Norochcholai Coal Power Plant.

According to a recently published Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report, many instances of environmental destruction have taken place in connection with the Norochcholai (Lakvijaya) Coal Power, Plant located in Puttalam. 
The Daily Mirror uncovered that the 306-square kilometre coral reef sanctuary located 15 km from the Norochcholai Coal Power Plant, and identified as a favourite amongst tourists, is currently facing the threat of being destroyed. 
While the first phase of the 300 MW Norochcholai Coal Power Plant in Puttalam was constructed in 2011 the second phase – a 600 MW plant – was constructed in 2014. 

The power plant has the potential to meet part of the country’s electricity requirement, but the coal ash and dust particles emitted from the plant pose a serious threat to the area’s agricultural crops as well as marine life and the coral reef sanctuary in Kalpitiya.
It is in this backdrop that the Government has focused its attention on implementing the third phase of the Norochcholai Coal Power Plant.

According to an EIA conducted in the Kalpitiya sea area, it has been discovered that the release of water at a temperature of around 7 degrees centigrade (°C) to the sea by the coal power plant has led to the destruction of marine life in the vicinity including seaweed.  
Furthermore, the discharge of coal ash particles from the power plant into the sea, and the coal that falls into the sea while it is being unloaded at the power plant, which melts and flows into the Kalpitiya Coral Reef Sanctuary Zone, are also compounding the destruction of the coral reef. 

I am ready to discuss the matter directly with the Norochcholai power plant management in the future. This was a serious environmental problem 

- MEPA Chairperson Attorney-at-Law Dharshani Lahandapura 

It is learned that several government departments have informed the Norochcholai Coal Power Plant management about their concerns in writing, but no government agency has been appointed to oversee it. When inquired, Director General of the Department of Wildlife Conservation (DWC) M.G.C. Sooriyabandara said that the EIA report had shown that grave damage is being caused to the coral reef sanctuary area due to the water that is being released into the sea by the Norochcholai Coal Power Plant and the dust particles emitted by the coal 
combustion process. 

However, he said that despite the Norochcholai Coal Power Plant management being notified of this matter on several occasions, it hadn’t produced a positive response. Additionally, the absence of an institution to monitor this process has given rise to many issues. 
Although the DWC has authorised the preparation of EIAs on several such projects, it is unfortunate that there is no mechanism to monitor them.

 

"I am not aware of such a situation. Although the sea is a vast area, steps would be taken to pay more attention to this, as there is an obvious impact"

Secretary to the Ministry of Environment Dr. Anil Jasinghe

 

 

He also said that in some cases, when officials of the Norochcholai Power Plant were questioned about the extinction of marine life, the information they provide hasn’t been accurate.
Sooriyabandara said that based on information received by the DWC, there has been some impact on the Kalpitiya sea area due to the Norochcholai Power Plant, adding that the Central Environmental Authority (CEA) should probe the matter and take appropriate legal action. 
When inquired about this, the Chairperson of the Marine Environment Protection Authority (MEPA), Attorney-at-Law Dharshani Lahandapura said that it has been identified that the water released from this power plant as well as the coal emissions are causing some damage to the marine environment of 
the region.

Kalpitiya scuba diving bar reef

 

An EIA has shown that part of the coral reef sanctuary is covered with coal ash dust particles.
However, she said that when inquired, the Norochcholai Coal Power Plant officials claim that the water is cooled prior to being released into the sea. 
However, she said that she was ready to discuss the matter directly with the Norochcholai power plant management in the future and that this was a serious environmental problem.
Although the MEPA has some responsibility to probe this matter, the DWC has a greater responsibility, said MEPA 
Chairperson Lahandapura.

When inquiries were made from the Secretary to the Ministry of Environment Dr. Anil Jasinghe he said that he wasn’t aware of such a situation. Jasinghe added that although the sea was a vast area, steps would be taken to pay more attention to this, as there is an obvious impact. 
He said that although this plant is based on Chinese technology, it cannot be deemed that there is no issue; adding that some responsibility also falls on the Ministry of Power as well. 
Dr. Jasinghe added that the Ministry of Power should definitely get involved in resolving this issue, pointing out that under these circumstances, it would cause problems in implementing the third phase of the Norochcholai Power Plant. 

The coral reefs face the danger of being destroyed even if the ocean temperature increases by a mere one degree centigrade. It has been identified that the temperature of the seawater in the vicinity of the Norochcholai power plant has increased”

-  DWC’s Assistant Director in charge of marine reserve sanctuaries Manjula Amararatne


The DWC’s Assistant Director in charge of marine reserve sanctuaries, Manjula Amararatne said that the Hikkaduwa, Rumassala, and Kalpitiya zones have been brought under the Department of Wildlife Conservation through a special gazette notification.
Amararatne said that the coral reefs face the danger of being destroyed even if the ocean temperature increases by a mere one degree centigrade. It has been identified that the temperature of the seawater in the vicinity of the Norochcholai power plant has increased, and it is very noticeable even when you 
touch the water.

“However, it is not known whether this is monitored by any agency. Its monitoring should be done by the same institution that carried out the EIA,” he opined.
Assistant Director Amararatne said that as the Norochcholai Power Plant has a dolphin zone about 5-6 km away and more attention should be paid to this issue.

When inquired about this situation, Centre for Environmental Justice (CEJ) Executive Director Hemantha Vithanage said that the water released into the sea from the Norochcholai power plant is never cooled, adding that as the water released into the sea is 7°C , it will invariably cause damage to marine life as well as the coral reefs. 
It has been reported that as the ash from this coal power plant was not purchased by any company, it is being released into the sea.  
Vithanage further stated that a large amount of coal falls into the sea while being unloaded by barges, adding that a large amount of coal, similar to the quantity of a shipload, has been deposited on the seabed around Norochcholai.
When this matter was brought to the notice of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa by Colombo Archbishop Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith, the President had promised to take 
immediate action.

"The water released into the sea from the Norochcholai power plant is never cooled, adding that as the water released into the sea is 7°C , it will invariably cause damage to marine life as well as the coral reefs"

CEJ Executive Director Hemantha Vithanage

 

 

The CEJ Executive Director Vithanage further stated that the Department of Wildlife Conservation, Marine Environment Protection Authority, Ministry of Environment, Central Environmental Authority, and the Ministry of Power and Energy should intervene in this matter.
A senior official of the Puttalam Wildlife Zonal Office stated that the fish in the area are in danger of extinction due to the water at a temperature of 7°C being released from the Norochcholai Power Plant.

He said that if this situation is not addressed there is a possibility that dolphins, which are abundant in the Kalpitiya region, being affected in the future. He added that an EIA report should be obtained again before the commencement of the third phase of the Norochcholai Coal Power Plant.
This officer further said that a recent search had found that there was no seaweed or sea creatures in the sea around the Norochcholai Coal Power Plant.

Officials of DWC’s Marine Reserve Sanctuaries state that the Norochcholai power plant has a dolphin zone about 5-6 km away and more attention should be paid to this issue

 

  Comments - 16

  • Ramesh Wednesday, 03 February 2021 01:49 AM

    Damage already done. Don't they do the EIA before the project start.

    Ding Dong Wednesday, 03 February 2021 10:12 AM

    Another Chinese catastrophe ! It never ends !

    brainmaster Wednesday, 03 February 2021 04:56 PM

    in the EU and many other advanced countries coal power plants are banned and shut down, but here....

    Facts talk Wednesday, 03 February 2021 07:02 PM

    Recently, I had the opportunity to look into the details of this project. The cooling water discharged into the sea does not travel that far (it is nearly 40km from coal plant) to reach bar reef. Earlier, there were issues with coal dust, now it is almost 95% controlled (due to commission taking high officials of the Power Ministry, including the Secretary level), the coal import had not been complied to the technical specifications). Now, this is resolved (at least, for the moment).

    K.L Pathirana Wednesday, 03 February 2021 09:28 PM

    There is a serious discrepancy in this article where it requires investigation by the author. It says 7 deg C water is released to the sea. I find it very difficult to believe the accuracy of this statement. The waste water temperature from the cooling condenser outlet should be much higher, at least near or above the 80C or even higher at the outlet. 7C will make absolutely zero impact on marine life.

    Kumar Wednesday, 03 February 2021 10:17 PM

    Electrical engineers never cared about the environment. I pointed of the most of the problems they are having in a letter to a local paper which was polished in 1999. Then the energy expert Tilak Siybalapitiya was very critical of my letter and dismissed whatever I stated. I know you guys won't publish this but at least you know.

    Sam Thursday, 04 February 2021 06:01 AM

    As long as Pohotuwa is there, anything and everything is possible with the 6,9M mandate.

    Lalith Thursday, 04 February 2021 02:02 PM

    "According to an EIA conducted in the Kalpitiya sea area, it has been discovered that the release of water at a temperature of around 7 degrees centigrade (°C) to the sea by the coal power plant has led to the destruction of marine life in the vicinity including seaweed." Release of water at a temperature of around 7 degrees centigrade (°C)? Water temperature of Sri Lankan sea waters is very mach higher than 7 °C. Since one could take a bath/swin without any difficulties, water temperature should above 20-25 °C. It seems to me that this article based on wrong data.

    SAm Friday, 05 February 2021 08:35 AM

    Acturally, your breath is a factor to cause global greenhouse effect. Since you are a realistic environmentalist, may you consider to stop your breath.

    Peter Friday, 05 February 2021 09:56 AM

    7degrees C is very cold. Does the newspaper check its facts or even proof read. ANOTHER EXAMPLE OF SHODDY REPORTING.

    Engineer Friday, 05 February 2021 12:40 PM

    I guess the journalist is trying to say that used water discharge temperature is 7°C higher than the seawater temperature. If that is the case, used water can be easily cooled by installing a heat exchanging equipment in power plant. This is not an expensive addition to the power plant.

    Kumar Tuesday, 09 February 2021 10:37 PM

    Nothing is cheap when it comes to cooling towers. So what do you exchange heat to, more water?

    Buddhist Saturday, 06 February 2021 11:55 PM

    Why are the Buddhist Monks who jump on to the streets are not jumping on to this issue? Didn't Buddha teach that all plants and animals too have to be protected? Is this because China has not bribed them to do this?

    Saliya Srisannas Liyanage Sunday, 07 February 2021 10:26 PM

    Somebody says that coal that falls into the sea, while being discharged, melts and flows to the Kalpitiya Coral Reef Sanctuary. He must be living in a fool's paradise. The simple truth is that coal never melts at the sea temperature. It needs a much higher temperature for coal to melt. This proves that the knowledge of the so - called environmentalists are so low. Former Project Manager (Puttalam Coal Power Project)

    lakmal Tuesday, 09 February 2021 04:05 PM

    500 Mw coal power plant can save , FOREX brought by 1,000,000 house maids. Coal is the cheapest source of energy. Just do google , Japan plan to build 14 more coal power plants in coming years. Are we developed than Japan ?

    Mario Friday, 19 February 2021 03:14 AM

    If water is 7°C then why not use it for A/C? Make a cool area resort and problems are over. The coal dust... is another matter. Make it a compound to concrete, and all sudden you have to little of both. :P


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