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‘Green’ Geothermal in Bulusan : Here’s the caveat

'Green' Geothermal in Bulusan : Here's the caveat

Mount Bulusan as viewed from our family house azotea in Poblacion Central, Bulusan.

Impacts on Water Resources
The extraction, reinjection, and discharge of geothermal fluids
may affect the quality and quantity of surface and groundwater
resources. Examples of specific impacts include the inadvertent
introduction of geothermal fluids into shallower productive
aquifers during extraction and reinjection activities or a reduction
in the flow of hot thermal springs due to withdrawal activities.

(Source: EHS Guidelines for Geothermal Power Generation, World Bank Group)

I am personally not against Geothermal Energy development.  What I am against is the inappropriate choice of the location. Mount Bulusan is at the center of 5 large communities– including my town (which lies within the 8 km radius from the center). Five more towns are adjacent to these “volcano”  towns. A total of 10 municipalities with population of  around 500,000. Google map shows that Bulusan Volcano is like a heart in the middle of the South central part of Sorsogon Province. Its mountains (it is a composite mountain) is one of the last remaining rainforests of  Bicol region with 43 % endemism, meaning some of its flora and fauna exist nowhere else but here.

I drink from the water flowing in our tap filtered by the rainforest and aquifers of  Mount Bulusan. Our daily rice consumption is locally grown, irrigated by the waters of Mount Bulusan. I bath with the crystal clear waters of Mount Bulusan. And so much more.

The planned  Geothermal industrial power plant (40MW, initial) will require the conversion of the surroundings of Mount Bulusan (around 26,000 hectares) into a Geothermal field zone atop our residential communities. I share the concerns of many including the studies already published in journals that the toxic waste water is not guaranteed to be  leakproofed and will ultimately leach into groundwater. In addition,  the storage/dump ponds for extra waste water and sludge  are vulnerable to the more than 20 typhoons that visit Bicol region annually.

Photo: Alma P. Gamil

Bulusan, Sorsogon, Philippines

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