On 1st November, the 17th National Forum on Problems of Coal-fired Power Plants was held in Kobe city. On the same day, the campaign against the planned project to build the Kobe Steel Coal-fired Power Plant on the former site of a blast furnace of the same factory began. The centre of the campaign is Citizens’ Network: Considering Problems of Coal-fired Power Plants (executive: Yoshio Morioka), an organization based in Kobe which has a long history of campaigning against coal-fired power plants and advocating on their negative impacts. The main activities of this organization target stopping construction plans for coal-fired power plants which are destructive to the environment.
Background to the construction plan of the Kobe Steel Coal-fired Power Plant
In 2002, Kobe Steel started to operate the No.1 Coal-fired power plant on the former sites of the No. 1 and No. 2 blast furnace, neighbouring a residential area in Nada ward, Kobe city. Two years later, in 2004, the No. 2 power plant was put into operation, providing electricity with a capacity of approximately 1400 MW to Kansai Electric Power.
In May 2013, Kobe Steel released its plan of suspending the No.3 blast furnace and building a coal-fired power plant (1400MW) on the site. This autumn, Kansai Electric Power began to recruit bidders for a planned power plant of 1500 MW, and Kobe Steel has expressed its willingness to bid for this project. Kansai Electric Power will make its decision on the successful bidder next February, and Kobe Steel is said to be the most promising candidate.
Local residents’ doubts are rising!
Since the media report on this planned project in May 2013, Citizens’ Network: Considering Problems of Coal-fired Power Plants has been talking with the prefectural environmental impacts investigation agency, city government, and Kobe Steel, and collecting information. The power plants under operation have been found to produce more carbon dioxide (over 7 million tons) than the original projection of 2.5 million tons. Moreover, though before construction Kobe Steel claimed that these power plants would adopt cutting-edge environmental facilities to prevent them from emitting hazardous heavy metals, it has been found through investigation into their operations that they have been emitting mercury. Therefore, a sense of mistrust is increasing among local residents.
And this time, in order to stop the ongoing construction plan, a protest campaign and a gathering to appeal against it have been organized. Following these initiatives, further activities, such as a petition letter, will be prepared. We will continue to report the development of this campaign in Kobe on our website.
Citizens’ Network: Considering Problems of Coal-fired Power Plants(Telephone: 078-335-3770)