NO POLLUTION: It enables power station to dispose of waste effectively
MUKAH: ENGINEERS involved in the construction of a hydro-electric dam in Sungai Rajang, Murum, have found good use for a waste product that can cause pollution if it is not disposed of properly.
The "plant ash", which is ash from the burnt coal of Mukah Power Generation (MPG) Bhd's coal-fired power station in Matadeng, 30km from here, will be added to the concrete mix used in the construction of the RM3.5-billion dam.
The plant ash reportedly has properties to add strength to the concrete.
The MPG power plant generates 3,500 tonnes of plant ash a month. It has to be disposed of in accordance with the guidelines set by the Department of Environment and the state's environmental watchdog, the Natural Resources and Environment Board.
Critics of the power plant and the opposition have over the years alleged that coal dust polluted the environment surrounding the plant and caused health problems to people living nearby since it started operating in 2009.
MPG, a subsidiary of the state's power supplier Sarawak Energy Bhd, has denied the allegations.
To prevent the ash from being blown by the wind, it is stored in three 380-tonne silos before it is transported to Murum, a 400km road trip.
To fire the two 135-megawatt (MW) steam turbines of the RM950-million Chinese-built power plant, about 1.2 million to 1.4 million tonnes of coal are required a year.
Last year, the plant generated about 42,000 tonnes of ash.
The Mukah-Balingian coal field, which supplies the coal, has reserves to power the plant for the next 50 years.
The Murum dam is the second major hydropower project in the state. Once completed by the end of next year, its turbines will have an installed power capacity of 944MW.
The total capacity of 3,344MW from the Murum and Bakun dams will cater for the needs of industries in the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (Score), which stretches from here to Bintulu.