The Coal Industry in Papua New Guinea
Lae Power Plant:
Social and Environmental Concerns
The power plant’s proposed site is at the northern end of the Lae Western Tidal Basin, immediately on the northern banks of the Markham River where it empties into the basin. It is right in the industrial heart of Lae.
The Western Tidal Basin is the Labu people’s home, who occupy six villages in the area. The closest village to the site – around 500 m from the proposed power plant, is called Labu Butu. Labu Butu has a population of approximately 3,000 people, made up of 325 family groups.
CONCERNS REGARDING THE POWER PLANT
There has been no proper consultation with the local communities
As detailed in the report on Mayur by Jubilee Australia and CELCOR, local community representatives are concerned about the proposed power plant that is to be built 500 metres from their village. They say that there has been no proper consultation and that they have not given their consent to the project.
Increased pollution and poor impact on public health
Burning coal releases toxins and emits hazardous air pollutants that can spread for hundreds of kilometres. Contaminants include particulate matter, sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, carbon dioxide, mercury, and arsenic. These pollutants have a range of severe impacts on human health, causing respiratory disease, cardiovascular illnesses, and neurological problems.
The concern is that the plant’s air pollution will impact the city of Lae, where more than 100,000 people live. There has been no proper scientific study publicly released that examines the health impacts on the people of Lae from the proposed plant.
Enforces the false claim that coal can be the solution
Mayur claims that the plant will improve the air quality in Lae, arguing that the power plant will see an end to the dirty diesel and heavy fuel oil private generators that many businesses and buildings in Lae rely on because of the unreliability of power service in Lae.
There is no evidence for this claim. Indeed, these private generators are necessary because of the Lae grid’s poor infrastructure; thus, only rebuilding the infrastructure will solve this problem. Pumping more dirty power to the grid is not the solution.
Image: Illustrative photo of a coal fire power station