Based on CREA’s maximum assessment, pollution from the Suralaya Steam Power Plant causes 1,640 deaths each year.

The Center for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA) report stated that the activities of the Suralaya Steam Power Plant complex, Banten Province, had a negative impact on people’s health and economy.

This was revealed in the CREA report “Air quality impacts of the Banten-Suralaya complex”, which was published on September 12 2023.

Based on CREA’s maximum assessment, the Banten-Suralaya Steam Power Plant complex causes 1,640 deaths annually and health losses worth US$1.16 billion (equivalent to Rp. 15.8 trillion). According to this scenario, PM2.5 causes 1,063 deaths due to stroke (401), heart disease (365), respiratory tract infections (91) and so on.

Jamie Kelly, CREA Air Quality Analyst, said that burning coal at the Banten-Suralaya Steam Power Plant complex causes air pollution consisting of particulate matter (PM2.5), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), sulfur dioxide (SO2) and ozone (O3 ).

Their calculations show that the Banten-Suralaya Steam Power Plant complex could impact pregnant women, an average of 1000 premature births, low birth weight babies, 1500 children suffering from asthma, including more than 1000 new asthma cases

“We can also see the impact on health by looking at the number of people on leave due to illness. “We calculated an average of more than 742 thousand sick days,” said Jamie when releasing the report, Tuesday (12/9/23). “If calculated, the cost of annual health losses is more than US$1 billion.”

According to Jamie, the potential for negative impacts on health occurs because the emissions from the Banten-Suralaya Steam Power Plant have exceeded quality standards, which is exacerbated by weak air pollution control and poor technology.

However, health and economic losses can be minimized with several approaches. According to Jamie, enforcement of national quality standards (15 mg/m3) can prevent 97-268 deaths, reduce visits to emergency units (ER), reduce new cases of asthma in children, premature births, and save US$70 million in health costs. US$190 million (Rp. 0.940-2.6 billion).

Meanwhile, the application of the best technology at the Banten-Suralaya PLTU will reduce the average annual concentration of PM2.5 to less than 0.2 mg/m3 and can save up to 1,560 lives every year.

Using the best technology can also reduce 1,689-1,839 visits to the ER, as well as prevent 966-1,176 new cases of asthma in children, 883-967 premature births, 577-631 underweight births, and 700,000-766,000 absences from work each year.

“All of this (application of the best technology) could mean a potential economic profit of IDR 15.1 trillion,” said Jamie.

Based on these estimates, CREA recommends that the government implement compliance with national standards and impose sanctions on units that do not meet these standards. In addition, the government is asked to implement stricter standards and implement new technology as China, the European Union and South Korea have done.

Irwan Edi Syahputra Lubis, General Manager of PT PLN Indonesia Power (IP) Suralaya Power Generating Unit who was present at the launch of the report, was reluctant to respond to CREA’s assessments. According to him, the Suralaya Steam Power Plant always pays attention to quality standards and environmental preservation and ensures that the emissions produced do not exceed the threshold set by the government.

“Regarding health issues, we also read and studied the CREA report, that it is all modeling based on the maximum (potential) or worst scenario. “We don’t want to argue there,” he said.

He said that the operations of the Suralaya Steam Power Plant were equipped with environmentally friendly technology such as Electrostatic Precipitator (ESP), Low Nox Burner and Continuous Emission Monitoring System (CEMS), to ensure that exhaust gas emissions from the plant could be reduced as much as possible.

Irwan explained that CEMS is a technology used to monitor emissions from generators continuously, so that emissions coming out of the chimney can be monitored in real time and ensured that they do not exceed the ambient quality standards set by the Ministry of Environment and Forestry.

ESP is an environmentally friendly technology for Steam Power Plants which functions to capture dust and exhaust emissions which is capable of filtering and capturing very small dust under 2 micrometers, with an efficiency of up to 99.9%.

During its 39 years of operation, the Suralaya Steam Power Plant has always tried to reduce emissions as much as possible, and monitor them in real time, with a tool that is connected directly to the Ministry of Environment and Forestry dashboard.

“Because of the success in controlling emissions in all power plants, PLN IP received a gold ‘proper ‘ award from the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, which is the highest award in environmental management every year,” said Irwan.

“In 2022, there will be 15 gold proper awards for all PLN power plants, including the Suralaya 1-7 Steam Power Plant, the Banten 1 Suralaya, the Lontar and the Pelabuhan Ratu.”

Apart from the application of technology and these achievements, said Irwan, since 2020 PLN IP has used biomass, which in 2022 will consume 132 thousand tons. As well as, installing rooftop solar PV with a total power of 1243 kwp (kilowatt peak).

About the writer

Themmy Doaly

Themmy Doaly has been working as Mongabay-Indonesia contributor for North Sulawesi region since 2013. While in the last nine years he has also been writing for a number of news sites in Indonesia, including...

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