The proposed plant threatens Lamu’s water
DeCOALonize Resource Source
The plant will affect Lamu from three water-related activities:
- Increased local water temperatures
- Acid rain
- Toxins from coal ash entering the water
Increased local water temperatures
Burning coal requires millions of gallons of water to keep the plant cool. After the water is used, the now-hot water will be released back into the ocean around Lamu. The increased temperature will harm the fish in the water and destroy the livelihood of the fisherman and the fishing industry.
- It will take between 42,000m3/hour of seawater and 126,504m3/hour of seawater to cool the condenser, combustion system, and open cycle cooling system.
- The Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) states that “at the discharge point, the temperature differential of the ambient and discharged water will be about 9°C,” but the World Bank Group EHS Guidelines for Thermal Power Plants states that the discharge cannot raise temperatures more than 30°C at a scientifically established point.
- Even slight increases in water temperature break down the relationship between coral and the algae that live in it — this breakdown causes “coral bleaching.” If high temperatures (an increase of 1–2 degrees Celsius) persist for two months, the coral begins to die and no longer can sustain itself nor the aquatic creatures that lived in the reef.
- Mangroves are negatively affected by rising water temperatures and, as they decline, will no longer protect the shoreline, provide habitat for marine animals or fish, or be a source of wood for traditional architecture.
- The ESIA does not account for entrainment — how organisms like plankton are affected by cooling water intake. Long-term killing of plankton will have significant impacts on the region.
- The “Hydrodynamic Modeling Report” did not use site-specific data collected over one year and therefore is not a reliable model on which to base impact decisions.
- The official ESIA proposes that the coal plant’s release into Manda Bay would breach Kenyan water quality regulations at least one in every 20 days.
The particulate matter in the smoke from the coal plant creates acid rain. Acid rain is formed with emissions from coal plants mix with water in the atmosphere. There is also dry deposition — where the toxic chemicals released from coal plants move through the air and fall onto water, buildings, plants, and crops.
- Acid rain can ruin water systems and crops, plants, and trees, and affect fish and wildlife.
- Acid rain changes the chemistry of soil which reduces the nutrients in soil and damages the roots of plants and trees. It will reduce agricultural production as well as the health of trees, leaving them more vulnerable to environmental stresses and disease.
- The nitrogen in acid rain kills fish and shellfish. This will significantly reduce potential incomes for fishermen and the fishing industry in the region.
- Dry acid deposition will cause corrosion and other damage to the historic buildings and structures.
- Inhaling acidic fog or misty air can be damaging to human health as the particulate matter causes asthma and headaches, and irritates the nose, throat, and eyes. It is particularly dangerous for people who are old, sick, or have chronic respiratory problems.
Burning coal creates Coal Ash, which needs to be safely stored for perpetuity. The Lamu Coal Plant proposed an ash yard that will hold 26,740,000 cubic metres of ash and stand 25.8 metres high. The yard will be 200 metres from the intertidal zone, according to the EISA.
- Coal ash contains toxic elements including mercury, cadmium, lead, naturally occurring radioactive materials, and over one dozen heavy metals. Exposure to these elements causes heart damage, lung disease, reproductive problems, birth defects, and cancer.
- The ash yard is planned to be built over a freshwater aquifer, which poses a significant health risk to anyone using nearby ground or surface water for drinking, washing, agriculture, or aquaculture.
- According to the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment, the ash yard is designed to store ash for only 15 years, but the plant is expected to be in use for 50 years. There is no proposal for how the ash will be stored years 16 to 50.
- The ESIA identifies the site of the Lamu Plant as “high flood risk and vulnerable” and that “flows are likely to cause flooding, waterlogging, and inundation of the floodplains of some of the watersheds of Lamu Coal Power Plant project Kwasasi area.”
- The ESIA does not detail the capacity of water treatment. Heavy rainfall would cause the highly toxic coal ash to be released into Manda Bay in the Lamu Archipelago.
For additional information:
Background documents at deCOALonize.org.
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