Environmental activists and researchers on Wednesday claimed that the ash which will be produced as a by-product of the Rampal power plant will destroy the ecology of the Sundarbans mangrove forest.
According to their statistics, the proposed coal-fired power plant at Rampal will produce more than 38 million tonnes of ash during 60 years of operation at 90% electric load generation capacity.
The activists made the comments at a programme titled “Environmental Hazard Assessment of Coal Ash Disposal at the Proposed Bangladesh-India Friendship Power Company Plant in Rampal, Bangladesh,” organised by the National Committee to Protect Oil, Gas, Mineral Resources, Power and Port at the Dhaka Reporters Unity Auditorium.
Based on projected ash recycling plans, only a portion of coal ash would be used in domestic concrete or brick industries. Even if half of all ash produced is recycled into these industries, the ash disposal pond would still be full in 12 years with 20 million tonnes of ash left over, said US Forest Service researcher Dennis Lemly while briefing the programme via video conference.
Furthermore, Lemly said that sufficiently strong storms and high water levels may breach the ash pond and lead to an environmental catastrophe by covering the entire region in toxic heavy metal waste.
The activists hence suggested that the government shift the location of the power plant to the banks of the Burishowr River, at the coastal district of Barguna, to minimise the impact on the Sundarbans.
With the aim of keeping up with the country's growing energy needs, Bangladesh plans to establish a 1320MW coal-fired power plant at Rampal with the support of India. The plant is to be located adjacent to the Sundarbans, the world's single largest mangrove forest.