Thursday, April 20, 2006

Energy Corporation chairman a no-show at smelter meeting

Richard Lord
Trinidad Express
April 20, 2006

CHAIRMAN of the Joint Select Committee on Government Ministries, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises Mary King yesterday slammed Chairman of the National Energy Corporation Keith Awong for failing to attend a scheduled meeting at the Red House to discuss the proposed aluminium smelter near Cap-de-Ville, Point Fortin.

At one point King threatened to end the meeting because of the absence of key officials such as Awong, and also because those who were sent were unable to answer critical questions posed by committee members.

Those in attendance were Clement James, manager Public Affairs Alutrint, Vijay Lal, senior project engineer, NEC and Wade Hamilton, vice president, Technical Services, NEC.

They were unable to answer questions on the price gas may be sold to Alcoa, operators of the plant.

They were unable to give answers on the level of emissions from the proposed plant, they were also unable to give details about the transportation of waste from Trinidad and Tobago to the United States or what alternatives were being considered for the safe disposal of the toxic waste.

King said that a fax was received during the meeting indicating that Awong was not attending the meeting.

A disappointed King said: "So members if you have any other questions which we feel can be answered by the panel, let us have them, and if you don't I don't think we really can proceed. We will be writing the Parliament as to the respect or the disrespect that this committee has been given today."

Moments later committee member Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan said she did not think it "would make sense to continue this meeting because it is apparent that we are not going to get any answers. It is clear that we have asked for specific people to be present and I feel it is a total disrespect for the committee that these members have decided that they will not attend...and I want to express my dissatisfaction on that issue."

Fellow Opposition Senator Jennifer Jones-Kernahan later said she concurred with Seepersad-Bachan's comments.

The meeting ended minutes later.


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