Fire down below, A Ignatius

Tags: Palinpinon, Silliman University, Communications Division, IDRC Canada, the Philippines, international workshops, the university's School of Communication, Press Foundation of Asia, journalists, School of Communication, resource persons, Geothermal energy, Philippines, hot water, Singapore, the Philippines BOB HUGGAN ideen journalists, development science, science writing workshops, IDRC, Development science journalism workshops, province in the Philippines, acid rain, Sycip-Wale, Fe Sycip-Wale, primary health care, Negros Oriental, transmission lines, directional drilling, power plant, Southeast Asian countries, geothermal development, power plan, Underground reservoirs, geothermal exploration, science journalism
Content: Development science journalism workshops in THE Philippines
ideen journalists from six Southeast Asian countries took part in the third in a series of international workshops in development science writing supported by IDRC'S Communications Division. Held November 22.December 1, 1982, at Silliman University, Dumaguete City, Philip- pines, the workshopwas organized by the university's School of Communication and the Manila-based Press Foundation of Asia (PFA). Journalists from Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand joined two senior students from the School of Communication and IORC'S regional liaison officer in Singapore for 10 days of intensive, practica1 training and discussion of science journalism in developmeni. University faculty, and staff from PFA and IDRC Canada served as resource persons. Field trips presented firsthand opportunities lo observe science and its effects. As in the previous two workshops in Dakar, Senegal, and Nairobi, Kenya (see Reports 1 O(3) and 1 l(2)), the journalists treated each presentation orfield visitas a press conference and wrote news or feature articles on severa1 of them. The articles were edited and critiqued by the resource persons, then returned to the participants.
The journalists' reaction to the content and organization of the workshop was much more widely varied than in the two African workshops. This was due, in pati, to a weakness in the participant selection process that resulted in some of ihe journalists being relativa beginners while others were seasoned practitioners. As in the previous workshops, an important additional benefit was the opportunityforjournaliststoexchange information and opinions on the often widelyvarying editorial approaches of the media in their home countries, and on the need for more reporting on Science and Technology for development. Although no dates for future IDRCsponsored science writing workshops have been set, French-speaking Central Africa, the Caribbean, Latin America, and South Asia are possible locations. The articles that accompany this report were written by three of the workshop participants as newspaper feature articles. The names and addresses of all participan& can be obtained from Michael Graham, Regional Liaison Officer, Communications Division, IDRC, Tanglin P.O. Box 101, Singapore 9124. Bob Huggan is Deputy Director of IDRC'S Communications Division.
Geothermal energy in the Philippines generates new hope for some of the poorest
Among the coconut trees and banana
patches high in the hills above one of
the poorest areas in the Philippines
lies what may be the answer to the
growing energy needs of the Visayas,
the group of islands that forms the
country's central region.
It is there, at Palinpinon on Negros
Island, that large underground reser-
voirs of hot water (up to 320%) and
steam - geothermal energy - are
being tapped to produce electricity.
By 1986, the field will provide some
230 megawatts (MW) of power to local
users. And, according to the project's
senior consulting
engineer, New
ZealanderAngus Brodie,"We're still just
picking at the edge of the resource."
Geothermal energy is already being
tapped to provide electrical power to
consumers in other parls of the Philip-
pines ~ at three fields in Laguna and
one in Leyte. The combined power
output of these areas now stands at
443 MW, making the Philippines the
world's second largest producer of
electricity from geothermal energy
after the U.S.A.
The Philippines government hopes
to add another 1033 MW of installed
generating capacity by 1986 from new
areas such as Palinpinon.
Just how is electricity produced from
geothermal energy? Essentially, it is
the harnessing ofthe underground hot
water and steam to turn turbines.
The hot water begins as rainwater
that seeps through fractures in the
strata under the earth's surface and is
heated by extremely hot molten rock
(magma) deep below the surface. In
Palinpinon, the magma is relatively
close to the surface as a result of past
volcanic activity.
The magma's heat radia& through
the water-containing rock layers above
it. As the downward-moving
water is
heated, itexpands and moves back up
toward the earth's surface. Some of the
heated water is trapped between layers
of rock and circula& in reservoirs.
By drilling with rotaty rigs, like those
used in the exploitation of Oil and Gas,
these hot water reservoirs can be
tapped. and the steam produced piped
to power plants fo generate electri-
At Palinpinon, two 3.MW pilot plan&
are now in operation, their combined
output of 6 MW being fed through
exlstlng transmission lines to Duma-
guete City, the nearbycapital of Negros
Oriental province. Even this small sup-
ply, however, has overloaded the old
transmission lines of the small City,
triggering almostdaily brownouts during
peak-use hours. New transmission
lines are presently being installed.
In the meantime, construction is
moving ahead on the first of two
planned ll 2.5.MW power plan&
PalinpinOn-1, to provide electricity ihrough-
out Negros Oriental. lis first unit of37.5
MW was expected to begin commer-
cial operation in March, this year, and
to be fully operational by November
Construction of the second ll 2.5.
MW-capacity plant, Palinpinon-ll, will
begin this year. Engineers at the site
say that this plant should be opera-
tional by 1986.
An innovative aspect of the Palin-
pinon development, Brodie says, is the
use. for the first time in geothermal
exploration, 01 directional drilling. This
technique, used extensively in oil and
gas exploration, allows the driller to
bend and turn the direction of ihe dril1
underground, instead of simply boring
a vertical hale.
Directional drilling is more expen-
sive than vertical drilling, but has been
found by drillers at Palinpinon to be
useful in the rugged mountain terrain.
Underground reservoirs as farawayas
1.5 km in horizontal distance can be
explored without the expensive, time-
aging technique of transporting the
heavy rigs through the mountains,
clearing land. then moving the rigs to a
new area.
Key environmental considerations
are being addressed in the Palinpinon
geothermal development. For exam-
ple, once water and sieam are extracted,
the mixture is piped to a separator and
the steam is sent to a power plant. The
remaining water cannot be dis-
charged into the local environment
because it includes potentially dаnger-
ous chemicals leached from under-
ground rocks. Boron. in particular, is a
danger to the rice fields that lie at the
baseofthe mountains. Its discharge is
limited by law to just two parts per
million in the Philippines.
TO avoid environmental contamina-
tion. water at the field is reinjected into
the underground reservoir. The result,
saygeologistsat Palinpinon,isthatthe
geothermal project is almost pollution-
free. However, because the piped
waterat the plant contains as much as
60 parts per million of boron, a rupture
could be extremely damaging to &ops
Another potential environmental
danger is the release of hydrogen
sulfide (HzS) from escaping steam.
When HIS mixes with water in the
atmosphere, it can produce dilute
sulfuric acid (acid rain).This is particu-
larlycritical at Palinpinon where moun-
tain cloud cover often drops as low as
the wellheads. Geologists at the site
say that the amount of HzS emitted is
the two large plants come on line it will
GOH SIEW CHING "What can I do about the worrns in the cabbage?" The question that launched integrated Rural Development in the southern partof NegrosOriental province, in fhe Central Philippines. carne from a village woman. It was directed at Dr Fe Sycip-Wale. whose sole commitment at that time - the late 1960s was to promote maternal and pediatric care in that very depressed kegion of the province. Negros Oriental was said to be the most backward province in the Philippines in the 1960s. And Dr Sycip-Wale, a pediatrician with Silliman University, had organized "mothers' groups" to discuss health problems in some of the most poverty-stricken villages dotting the province. "The person who asked that question was not even sure she should ask it," Dr Sycip-Wale recalls. "She apologized that the question was not related fo health, but stressed that it was very important to her. It was then I realized that if we were to respond to what the villagers reallywanted we would have to help them in matters other than health." And so the mothers' groups became paren& associations, concerned with all kinds of community welfare and involving both men and women. These associations led to the founding of the HAND (health, agriculture, nutrition, and communitydevelopment) program in 1972 by Dr Sycip-Wale at the MarinaClinic in the Negros Oriental town of Dauin. The privately funded clinic is today part of the extension program 0fSilliman University, in nearby Dumaguete City. "What we have been doing here has not been easy," Dr Sycip-Wale says, "but we have gained the confidente and the trust of many barrios (districts) in the area. And this, I have learned, is the first step to promoting and providing primary health care to people who have been deorived of these
be necessary to momtor the level
The two plan& may only be a start for
geothermal development at Palinpinon.
Brodie, who has 10 years of experi-
engineerin New
Zealand. estimates that the entire
resource area may be 50 km2. with a
potential output of around 1000 MW. If
Brodie's estimate is proven accurate, it
would make Palinpinon the largest
reserve in the
Adi Ignatius is manag,ng editor of Asia 2000 magazine, Hong Kong.
services." In an average month in 1982 some 260 people were treated at the clinic. Of these, more than half carne in for consultation, Dr Sycip-Wale reports, and the rest were follow-up cases. But while the clinic is the most visible project in the HAND program, the main outreach to the rural communities has been the HAND outposts established in nine of the 21 barangays (villages) in Negros Oriental since 1972. These outposts are tiny shacks erected by the villagers themselves to house the clinics - and sometimes themedicalstaff.Thesefront-lineclinics are staffed permanently by health workers trained to handle simple complaints such as coughs and colds, and fo recognize more serious ailments that need referral to doctors. They also handle "simple injections," according to DrSycip-Wale. The clinics are self-supporting, being funded in most cases from cooperative stores staffed and managed by the villagers themselves. It is also at these clinics that people meet to discuss other problems with agriculturai workers, nutritional experts. social workers, and other personnel from HAND teams. Because much of the success of such centres depends on the villagers themselves, leadership training programs have been included in HANO efforts. "1 don't want to give the impression that it's all a bed of roses," says Dr Sycip-Wale. "There have been problems. mainly with funding. "Five of the nine cooperatives started are not fully active. But the other four are managing well enough to pay the medical workers and buy the bulk of the medicine they need from their own profits." The latest development, in the barrio of Bolok Bolok, is the establishment of a pre-school program for the children of that area. "You see, we cannot predict how development will move," 25

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