By CRIS DIAZ Updated June 8, 2009 12:00 AM

The Alcantaras have submitted a proposal to operate a P200-million bio-ethanol plant within a 17-hectare area in the adjoining barangays of Bayanga and Mambuaya which could generate some 800 direct employment in the hinterlands of Cagayan de Oro City.

The company has chosen the place ideal for cassava farming, the main source of ethanol alcohol, because of its proximity to its agriculture-rich adjoining areas in Baungon and Talakag, Bukidnon.

But while the plan to put up the bio-ethanol plant is still in the drawing board some organizations, claiming to be environmentalists, are already scratching fingers. Reason: the plant could be a source of pollution and may destroy the rich eco-tourism area.

It was on this contention that the Environment and Management Bureau (EMB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources held a public hearing on Alson’s proposed bio-ethanol last week prior to issuance of Environment Clearance Certificate.

Alson consultants allayed unfounded fears that the bio-ethanol plant may cause pollution and destruction of the eco-tourism potentials of Bayanga and Mambuaya. With modern technology, Alson consultants assured stakeholders that the company is employing ‘‘zero waste’’ policy in the operation of the plant.

Under a ‘‘zero waste’’ policy, the plant is not throwing away “solid and liquid” materials to Munigi River, one of the tributaries of the Cagayan de Oro River. Its solid waste (the leftover after the cassava is boiled dried), is converted into coal to fuel the plant’s furnished. The carbon dioxide emitted during the cooking process is also captured to be utilized as ingredient for soft drinks.

The plant will only utilize daily one percent of the river’s flowing water which is very negligible.

One of those who participated (a representative of a local environment group) in the day-long public hearing scoffed at the ‘‘zero waste’’ policy as an incredible technology.  I am quite insulted by the guy’s reaction of pretending to be ignorant about ‘‘zero waste’’ technology. As an environment advocate, he should know that ‘‘zero waste’’ technology is now being adopted in the Europe, US and Japan.

Another guy, protested and left the round table because he insisted that Alsons should first settle the location before going on to discuss about bio-ethanol technology. Well, the guy is entitled to adulate his tantrums. The participants were only too glad that he left the room!

Too bad, the Philippines is too young in almost everything of utmost necessity. Be that as it may, residents in Bayanga and Mambuaya were in unison in expressing unequivocal support to Alson’s bio-ethanol plant.


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