LGU, informal settlers’ complaints batter Petron
Shares of Petron Corp. were battered on the Philippine Stock Exchange on Friday after Environment Secretary Gina Lopez was quoted as saying she would order a stop to the operations of the petroleum giant’s power plant in Limay, Bataan due to complaints lodged by the local mayor—accusations that the company denies.
Petron’s stock price dropped by 5.34 percent in a single day to end the trading session at P9.75 per share, and wiping P5 billion off the market capitalization of the country’s largest petroleum refiner and retailer.
The company, which is a subsidiary of San Miguel Corp., refuted the claims of environmental and health issues raised by the Limay mayor, as well as informal settlers who have been living on a Petron-owned property adjacent to the Bataan refinery.
In particular, the informal settlers—who have regular access to a range of Petron-funded medical services—have complained about the supposed ill effects of ash byproducts which the company deposits in a portion of their property.
“Our ash pond is located within our facility and near our offices,” Petron said in a statement. “It has the necessary regional and local permits from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), is surrounded by dikes, and regularly watered to prevent dispersion.”
“Ash from the pond, certified by DENR as nonhazardous, will be used as raw material for our cement manufacturing plant,” the company said. “Thus, reports of ash spill and tons of ash found along the coastline of a distant river, which is almost a kilometer away from our facility, is far from the truth.”
In an interview, Petron vice president for refinery Freddie Yumang said the company had originally intended to build an ash pond for its refining byproducts on another site within its sprawling compound, far from the complaining informal settlers. The municipality of Limay, however, denied the company a key construction permit forcing it to use a temporary site on its property—closer to a local community—which the local mayor is now also complaining about.
Yumang explained that the property now inhabited by informal settlers was originally meant to serve as a buffer between Petron’s refinery and local residents.
On Friday, the company organized a site visit for journalists to its facilities in Limay, Bataan.
“We brought major media outfits to the site to see for themselves how clean the river is and how we carry out adequate measures to contain our bottom ash to avoid dispersion,” the company said, adding that it is inviting other concerned stakeholders from both media and government to visit our facility as well.
“We want to show you a side of this whole story, that we believe, would make it complete and accurate,” Petron said. “Nevertheless, we assure that we will continue to assist the residents and work with the DENR and the municipality to do what is right and necessary.”
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