BANTEN/JAKARTA, Wednesday (4/11/2020)-The Indonesian Forum for the Environment (WALHI) officially sued the Java 9 & 10 Coal Power Plant (PLTU) Environmental Permit. The lawsuit was filed because the construction of Java 9 & 10 would worsen the environmental quality and public health nearby and failed to comply with the latest emission standards that have been in effect since 2019.

The Lawsuit against the Decree of the Head of Banten Province One Stop Investment and Integrated Services Service Number: 570/2/ILH.DPMPTSP/III/2017 concerning the Granting of Environmental Permits to PT Indonesia Power Activities Plan for the Construction of Suralaya Unit 9-10 (2 x 1,000 MW) Coal Power Plant along with its supporting facilities in Suralaya Village, Pulomerak District, Cilegon City, Banten Province, registered with the Serang State Administrative Court and obtained a case number 51/G/LH/2020/PTUN.SRG.

Before registering the lawsuit, WALHI had first submitted an objection letter against the Java 9 & 10 environmental permit to the Governor of Banten on August 5, 2020. However, the objection letter did not receive a reply. WALHI subsequently submitted an administrative appeal to the President on September 1, 2020, but the President also did not reply to that administrative appeal.

Java 9 & 10, located in Suralaya, Cilegon City, will add to the long list of pollutant sources in the region. This is because so far there are 8 PLTUs in the Suralaya area with a total capacity of 4025 MW which are located so very close to community settlements. Java 9 & 10 is projected to worsen air quality in Suralaya and Banten Province in general. No less than 21 PLTU units have surrounded Banten Province (Trend Asia, 2020) and have placed it as one of the provinces with the most PLTUs in Indonesia.

The poor air quality in Suralaya caused a high rate of people with Acute Respiratory Infection (ISPA) in Cilegon City. Based on data from the Cilegon City Health Office from 2018 to May 2020, there were 118.184 cases of ISPA* in Cilegon City.

Unfortunately in the Environmental Impact Analysis (EIA/AMDAL) of Java 9 & 10, the impact of decreased air quality and public health problems due to the construction and operation of Java 9 & 10 was not based on complete and valid information, so the prediction of negative impacts arising from the construction and operation of Java 9 & 10 was lower than it should.

Apart from failing to estimate the impact on air quality and public health problems, the EIA also failed to estimate the impact of the construction and operation of the Java 9& 10 on seawater quality and the risk of damage that would arise due to the tsunami.

The Minister of Environment and Forestry in 2019 issued the Regulation of the Minister of Environment and Forestry Number 15/2019 concerning Emission Standards for Thermal Power Plants (Permen LHK 15/2019) which regulates the emission of Sulfur Dioxide (SO2), Nitrogen Oxide (NOx), Particulate (PM) ), and Mercury (Hg) is more stringent than the previous emission quality standard regulations which are the basis for the issuance of the Java 9 & 10 Environmental Permit.

Java 9 & 10 should follow the emission quality standards stipulated in the Minister of Environment and Forestry Regulation 15/2019. However, until the filing of this lawsuit, there was no clarity about the changes to the Environmental Permit and EIA/AMDAL for standard adjustment. In fact, this is one of the obligations of the permit holder and failure to fulfill it causes the existing Environmental Permit to be canceled based on Article 37 paragraph (2) letter c of the Environmental Protection and Management Law (UU PPLH).

Ronald Siahaan, the plaintiff’s attorney, stated, “This lawsuit was registered for the benefit of environmental protection from the potential negative impacts caused by the construction and operation of Java 9 and 10. For this reason, we ask the Governor of Banten Province to cancel the Environmental Permits of Java 9 and 10.”

Public access to the Environmental Permit for Java 9 & 10 is also very limited. The official website or portal owned by the Governor of Banten and the Banten Province One Stop Investment and One Stop Service Office did not announce the Java 9 & 10 Environmental Permit.

The tendency to close public access to public documents has actually been going on for a long time and recently the condition has gotten worse.

*)Editor’s Note: