Power plants designed to weather quakes: EDC

By Mary Judaline Partlow

June 22, 2018, 9:03 pm

DUMAGUETE CITY, Negros Oriental – Geothermal power leader Energy Development Corp. (EDC) officials in Negros Oriental have assured that the geothermal power plants in Valencia town are designed to withstand earthquakes.

The assurance comes as the 2nd national earthquake drill was held Thursday in many local government units and schools across the country.

Engr. Vicente Omandam, senior manager for EDC’s Negros Island Geothermal Business Unit (NIGBU) and the Southern Negros Geothermal Plant (SNGP) in Valencia town, said that while they are prepared for the worst, “so far they have not experienced any damage due to earthquakes.”

“The design of our power plants here are intended to withstand strong earthquakes so normally we don’t have problems with the current quakes,” Omandam said, referring to recent earthquake events recorded in the province in relation to the local faults found here.

Nevertheless, he said there should be collaboration among local government units (LGUs) and other partners in the event of a destructive earthquake, or any other disaster.

“We can always mobilize our emergency response team and together with the barangay emergency response teams (BERTs) to make a rapid response to disasters like floods and earthquakes,” Omandam reassured.

“That would be our contribution to the community,” he added.

Norreen Bautista, head of EDC’s Community Partnerships, External Relations, and Watershed Management (CREW), also said that EDC has already trained at least 70 members of BERTs in coordination with the Valencia LGU “to respond in case of emergencies, and as part of our preparations on disaster response, we also conduct trainings on water rescue and mountain rescue” especially as the rainy season is here.

“We are also coordinating with the DRRMC (Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council) if we have trainings that they can also avail of,” she said.

EDC also has its own emergency rescue team on top of the BERTs that have been trained in the different barangays and who “act as first responders in time of disasters,” Bautista said.

Meanwhile, both officials reiterated that EDC’s operations do not cause earthquakes and welcomed the pronouncement of Undersecretary Renato Solidum of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) who made such pronouncement during a recent visit here.

Solidum had assured that the series of earthquakes reported early this year in Valencia and nearby areas were tectonic and not volcanic in origin.

Secondly, Solidum said that while Mt. Talinis, also known as Cuernos de Negros, is a “potentially active volcano,” there is no telling if it will erupt in this lifetime or not. He cautioned the public, however, to remain vigilant and pro-active in terms of disaster management and response.

He also discounted public speculation that EDC’s geothermal operations, specifically the injection or re-injection activities, had caused the earthquake events in January this year, saying that any activity of EDC will not cause an earthquake.

“That is also consistent with a research paper written by Saniel, et. al sometime in 1995 on the experience of geothermal operations and drilling in the United States,” said Engr. Omandam in reaction to Solidum’s pronouncements.

“The conclusion of that paper states that geothermal drilling and injection does not cause major earthquakes,” he said.

EDC has not had any “major damage so far on geothermal operations caused by an earthquake and the major damage experienced was practically due to a series of landslides and floods before, during the time of (typhoon) Sendong,” he added. (PNA)