Concerns raised in Indonesia over the declassification of coal power plant ash as hazardous waste

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Villagers in the Indonesian district of Suralaya, Banten province, have for over 35 years lived near a massive coal-fired power station.

The Suralaya coal power plant is vital as it supplies electricity not only to Banten province but also to other parts of Java island as well as Bali. It produces about 3,750 TWh of electricity per year.

Apart from the electricity, it also produces black smoke which is visible even on a cloudy day when CNA visited earlier this month.

Born and raised just metres away from the power plant, 72-year-old Saniman claimed that his health started to deteriorate after the power plant started to operate in 1985.

“I have breathing problems. My heart and lungs are not the best,” he told CNA.

Mr Saniman, who goes by one name, used to be a farmer but as his health deteriorated over time, he became a vegetables reseller.

He has long suspected that the smoke produced by the coal-fired power station, which until recently was classified as hazardous waste, is the main cause of his health issues since he is not a smoker.

But despite complaining to the village head with the other villagers who also have similar complaints, he said nothing has changed over the years.


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