Wednesday, August 23, 2006

More circumlocution from Alcoa

Yesterday, Alcoa hosted a press briefing regarding the terms of reference.
Noticeably absent was Mr.Randall Overbey, who has become the voice of the strong arm of Alcoa.
When questioned about Mr. Overbey’s statements, Mr. Hughes in a room full of journalists, flippantly said, ‘well you can’t believe everything you read in the newspapers’. Are you sure that's what you want to say in a room full of journalists?
He also insisted that they were there only to field questions about the draft terms of reference. Anil Roberts of Power 102 stormed out of the meeting at this point.
However he then changed tack when pressured into giving the company’s position on violence against unarmed communities engaging in non-violent direct action, claiming that their surveyors were threatened. He also claimed that he and Mr. Overbey received death threats and this was justification for their taking guns into the community during a meeting with them last year.
Mr. Hughes, however was kind enough to acknowledge that citizens have a right to protest but that it should be non-violent. As journalist Tony Fraser noted this is a significant change from the original line of the company, which has usually taken a similar line to that of the government, that only residents of Chatham had a right to be involved in the discourse about smelters and that everyone else was an outsider.
Mr. Hughes dodged questions expertly, dealing in the typically circumlocutive manner that we’ve become accustomed to. He refused to answer questions about the cost of gas and when asked how then could people make a proper comment on the EIA without knowledge of the cost of gas, he shrugged and said that the government were the ones who had requested confidentiality and this was a common arrangement that they’ve made with other governments.
In fact he insisted that Alcoa had been invited here by the government, he didn’t say which one or when this invitation arrived in the mail.
He was unable to give a satisfactory answer to the question of why another set of consultations were taking place (this one regarding the Terms of Reference), even though the consultation process regarding the drilling of bore holes has been stalemated. He said they were in constant contact with the farmers on whose land they were doing the surveys (although several land owners in the area who do not want the surveys done have run surveyors off their land). When asked why these consultations were private and therefore being carried out in a way that could not be monitored, he replied that journalists were free to go and interview the farmers.
When asked whether they would leave if they were not given environmental clearance, he said they would not operate without the proper permissions but would seek to use all avenues to mitigate. He is on record as saying they’ve never had a problem they haven’t been able to mitigate.
In other words, who would dare refuse Alcoa? And if so, what possible reason could they come up with?


Post a Comment

<< Home