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Mar 25th
Home Sections Ecology and the Environment Geothermal-plant Proponents Must First Conduct Research on Bulusan Volcano’s “Second Lake” Before Even Doing Environmental-impact Studies
Geothermal-plant Proponents Must First Conduct Research on Bulusan Volcano’s “Second Lake” Before Even Doing Environmental-impact Studies PDF Print E-mail
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Sections - Ecology and the Environment
Written by Bobby M. Reyes   
Friday, 09 December 2011 12:07


The Government Must First Fully Equip a Volcanic Observatory with Modern Equipment Costing More-than $2-million Before Doing Exploratory Work for a Geothermal Plant off Bulusan Volcano


First in an Occasional Series about “Sorsogon’s ‘Sayangtists’ and the Environment”


By Lolo Bobby M. Reyes of Sorsogon City and West Covina, California

In 1987, this writer submitted a proposal to a group of Sorsogon Province’s political policy-and-decision makers who had just captured the governorship about the tens, if not hundreds of millions of tons of dissolved methane and carbon-dioxide deposits in the bottom of Bulusan Lake but to no avail. The provincial leaders refused to consider the threat of a major earthquake or eruption releasing deadly clouds of gases or even set off explosions.


Inquisitive readers may like to read an account of my warning made in 1987 in this article:

A Bigger Danger than an Eruption Lurks in Bulusan Volcano




U nknown to many of Sorsogon’s community leaders, policy-and-decision makers and people is a second “lake” present in Bulusan Volcano. It is what scientists call a “lake of lava” found in all volcanoes. This second lake is found in the volcano’s crater and consists of a mantle-plume magma that rises 50 to 100 miles from below the Earth’s surface. The lava that explodes from this “second lake” is hot, often exceeding 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit. The lava looks spectacular but is terrifying in reality.


Very few people in Sorsogon know also that their province has a second volcano where the Bac-Man Geothermal Plant is situated. The second volcano is part of the Pocdol Volcanic Range (PVR).


This writer coined the term “Sayangtist” by combining the Filipino word for waste (Sayang) with “Scientist.” A “Sorsoganon ‘Sayangtist’,” therefore, is an elected public official who decides environmental issues without putting his or her thinking cap on and not knowing what the subject or topic is really all about from the viewpoint of science and not looking at the short-, medium- and long-term implications for approving said resolution, rule, regulation or permits about it. Thus, voters usually say, “Sayang ang pagboto ko sa kaninda” (What a waste for voting them to office).


Then there are fissures located in the lowlands surrounding a volcano. These fissures are at surface-level or underground but they are secondary vents to the magma below. Though small in size like the San Benon Hot Springs in Irosin town of Sorsogon Province, they could belch in a massive explosion enough lava to destroy villages and infrastructures – especially if it has the so-called “baby volcano” developing under it – with or without the formed parasitic cone.


A Need for a Well-equipped Volcanic Observatory


M ost Third-World countries like the Philippines cannot afford to equip fully a Volcanic Observatory. Even if there are available financial resources in the government coffers, politicians simply line up their pockets instead of appropriating them for the said observatory and its required numerous seismic stations. It does not take rocket science for people to know that swarms of tremors in a volcanic area usually – but not always – tell that an eruption is coming soon.


Every day the “lake of lava” emits tons of sulfur dioxide, the chief component of “acid rain.” In short, this second lake in Bulusan Volcano releases (even without a minor or major eruption) air that is full of acid and “metallic aerosol particles.” This is why geothermal plants need “scrubbers” to filter the air and steam belted out into the atmosphere. The owners and operators of the Bacon-Manito (Bac-Man) Geothermal Plant have not discussed the presence of the so-called “scrubbers,” as may be read in its reply to our series of articles about “Saving Our Sorsogon (SOS) Bay,” as found in this article: EDC Replies Through ABS-CBN Foundation’s Gina Lopez




The proponents of a new geothermal plant in or near Bulusan Volcano must first conduct exhaustive-and-thorough research, including complete mapping, of Bulusan Volcanic Range (BVR) and the PVR, as they sit in the so-called “Pacific Ring of Fire.” Prior to the granting by the Sorsogon Provincial Government and Local-Government Units (LGUs) permits to do exploratory diggings, the required Volcanic Observatories must be set up and equipped properly with state-of-the-art gadgets, including “gas sniffers” to measure carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and methane, among other gases emitted by the volcano.


As scientists have stated, volcanic gases have to be measured because “an eruption is often preceded by an increase in discharged gas and by variations in its chemical composition. The rise of magma, its accumulation in chambers, its propulsion into fractures—these events produce chemical signals that reach the surface well ahead of the magma itself” (The National Geographic Magazine, April 2011 issue on the Nyiragongo Volcano).


The National Geographic Magazine continued its story about the need for “radioactive clocks to decipher volcanic processes, measuring and comparing two isotopes of radon. By tracking this ratio over time, it can be determined how long gas has taken to reach the surface and gain clues to the chemical, thermal, and mechanical state of the rocks the gas is passing through. But few conclusions can be derived from a single expedition. Only long-term studies can determine which type(s) of gas fluctuations are cause for alarm and which are part of the volcano’s normal cycles.”


So unless the geothermal-plant proponents will do first their homework on building a truly state-of-the-art Volcanic Observatories and doing a long-term (like a 10-year period) of studies, then they must be stopped. For they are playing with volcanic fire, acid rain, other deadly gases and chemicals that may wreck havoc on the people living close to Bulusan Volcano and/or the PVR. # # #


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Last Updated on Monday, 26 December 2011 12:35

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