SEPA files court application to halt construction of Kubota project in Tawau

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah Environmental Protection Association (SEPA) president Wong Tack filed an application at the High Court here to stop the construction and operation of Kubota Power Plant in Tawau, claiming it would pose various adverse health effects.

Wong filed the application for judicial review through his counsel Marcel Jude Joseph yesterday, naming the Tawau Municipal Council president, federal Environment Department director, Lands and Surveys Department director and Sabah Electricity Sdn Bhd (SESB) as first, second, third and fourth respondents respectively.

He is seeking an order for the fourth respondent to stop and cease all or any further works for the construction, completion and operation of the Kubota Power Plant as well as an order of mandamus to remove all structures, buildings and machinery belonging to the said respondent which were used or to be used for the construction, completion and operation of the Kubota Power Plant.

Additionally, Wong is seeking an order of mandamus directed to the first respondent to stop the fourth respondent, whether by themselves or by their agent or servant, from proceeding with any or further works at the power plant, an order of certiorari to quash the decision of the first respondent or all or any permissions or lands given by the latter to the fourth respondent to construct, build and operate the power plant

Wong is further seeking among others, an order of mandamus directed to the second respondent to require the fourth respondent to prepare and proceed and complete an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), an order of mandamus directed to the third respondent to prevent the fourth respondent from further and continued breach of Section 30 of the Land Acquisition Ordinance and a declaration that the construction, completion and operation of the Kubota Power Plant in the vicinity at Taman Millienium is illegal and unlawful.

He also seeks damages to be assessed, statutory interest, costs and any relief deemed fit by the court.

In his affidavit-in-support, Wong claimed that the project is illegal and not following any proper procedure.

He stressed that the proposed Kubota Power Plant must be in line with the Environmental Quality Act 1974.

In this case, he pointed out the Kubota Power Plant is an industry and should not be built in the residential area.

He claimed that even though the federal Environment Department had given the licence to Kubota Power Plant to operate, SEPA believes that the Environmental Quality Act 1974 was not properly followed.

He said among others, adverse health effects are effects of direct exposure, pregnancy complications, premature deaths, indirect effects of power plant emissions, respiratory effects, pulmonary development in children, short and long-term effects in adults and cardiovascular effects.

In his press release, Wong claimed that SEPA and the residents of Tawau were worried on their safety, value of their properties, and long-term effect of their health being exposed to burning diesel, sound and vibration.

He pointed out that Kubota Power Plant’s two diesel tanks with millions of liters of diesel were built close to the road reserve and should an accident occur, the residents of Taman Millinium would be in great danger.

“Moreover, the power plant with two tall chimneys built dangerously close to our Electrical Transmission Station, have the potential of attracting lightning strikes to our transmission station causing a total blackout to the many areas of Tawau for a long period of time,” he said.

He said coming to the court for judicial review would be their prime action to protect the environment impact, health, safety and value of the residents’ properties.

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