Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Funeral provokes emotional response from concerned Londoners

Environmental activists and concerned citizens from across Britain,
Iceland and Trinidad and Tobago converged on Sloane Square in London on Friday (27/10/2006) to protest against the aluminium invasion into these islands. They congregated for an emotionally charged 'funeral
procession' and demonstration, to mourn the loss of the wildernesses
in Iceland, the Kárahnjúkar wilderness in particular [1]; and the
rainforest and beaches in the Cedros Peninsula of Trinidad and Tobago
The aluminium industry, notably ALCOA and ALUTRINT are determined to turn these regions into heavy industry havens. The event was in the
style of a funeral for the 'dying lands', and featured a lone violin
playing between moving speeches and poems. Speakers included a student union president, several Trinidadians and Icelanders as well as former UK Member of Parliament Sue Doughty [3].

Miriam Rose, from the campaign 'saving iceland' said, 'today was very
important as we established a real link between the fights in Trinidad
and Iceland. People were truly moved by this solidarity and the
shocking truths about ALCOA's actions.' After the ceremony a
procession followed the symbolic coffin to the embassies of the
affected nations, where petitions were presented. Embassy staff
threatened to call the police when a woman from the Cedros Peninsula,
Trinidad, tried to hand over a petition to the Trinidad & Tobago
embassy. Staff at the Icelandic embassy refused to accept the
document, which asked for the Icelandic and Trinidadian and Tobagonian governments to reconsider their heavy industry policy.

A live phone link connected the crowd in London to a simultaneous
protest in Trinidad, where locals are setting up a protest camp at the
University of West Indies in objection to the building of two huge gas
powered smelters [4], one by Alcoa, one by Alutrint. Details from this
Trinidadian protest camp can be obtained through contacting
info@therepublicofcedros.org or rightsactiongroup@gmail.com
The London demonstration was organised by Saving Iceland and

If you would like more information on the London demonstration, please
contact Miriam or Dan. welliebird7@hotmail.co.uk 447765501687 or 44 7944 313974.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Wear black this Friday

Dear Friends,
All roads lead to St. Augustine this Friday morning October 27 for the
launch of the newest anti-smelter protest camp on the southern
entrance of the UWI campus.
From 7am to 9am UWI students will distribute flyers at both main UWI
gates. The launch kicks off at 10 a.m at the campsite at UWI's
southern entrance just off the highway , you can't miss it!
And even if you can't be there, please show your support by wearing black.
Also for our London people, don't forget to check out the Funeral of the Wild in Sloane Square at 1pm.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Public must vote on smelter

October 24, 2006

Chairman of the Cancer Society Dr George Laquis yesterday said a referendum should be held for the aluminium smelters to be established in Trinidad and Tobago.

The Cancer Society issued a media release last month announcing that it was gathering information to determine the health implications of the proposed smelter plant.

“In order to provide a factual, evidence-based opinion on the potential health implications, the Cancer Society is working with health care and industry experts and will soon share the results of its findings publicly.

The Cancer Society is focused on the health implications and therefore has no opinion with respect to any economic benefits that may exist,” the release had said.

In an interview yesterday, Dr Laquis said the decision to build the plants should not be made by the Government only.

: “Something as important as this the Government should go out and educate on the facts not on the political level. Present the facts, benefits. We need to have a referendum.” He said the society needed to take a stand on the issue.

Laquis said the implications of the smelter would be felt by future generations if it should turn out to be an environmental disaster and the country “might not be able to foot the medical bill.” He said he was not passing judgement but stressing the need for widespread public input.

Laquis said he has been researching the smelter issue and getting different views, including those from Cedros residents and Alcoa officials. He said: “I find it very difficult to arrive at an opinion. Everyone on either side is glib.”

The smelter may be important economically or environmentally disastrous but Laquis said he wants to know the truth and that was “extremely difficult to come by.”

The Cancer Society will issue a statement “based on evidence.” Laquis said the evidence would be scutinised to ensure the conclusions were factual.

The Environmental Manage-ment Authority (EMA) has given Alcoa permission to conduct a comprehensive and public environmental impact assessment on the Cap-de-Ville site where the company proposes to construct its controversial aluminium smelter.

Alutrint plans to establish a smelter in La Brea.

Monday, October 23, 2006

New protest camp

On Sunday, a new anti-smelter protest camp was erected, this one in north Trinidad. The camp is an initiative of the Curepe community in association with RAG, the CCEPG and other NGO's and individuals who have been on the frontline of the anti-smelter movement in Trinidad and Tobago.
The camp will be launched this Friday to coincide with the London Demonstration being jointly staged by savingiceland.org and nosmeltertnt.com
The anti-smelter movement in Trinidad and Tobago (and sympathisers around the world) is asking supporters and sympathisers to wear black on Friday as we join with our brothers and sisters in Iceland mourning the loss of pristine wilderness for the sake of Alcoa's aluminum smelters.

No EMA clearance yet for Alutrint

A small victory, no? Enviro experts, I was told that the EMA stipulations are that once your supplementary report is refused you have to begin the entire EIA/CEC process again? Is this so? And interesting that this was not made a big fuss of in the media...

Trinidad Guardian
October 17, 2006

Alutrint will not be granted a certificate of environmental clearance until it answers all the questions outlined by the Environmental Management Authority (EMA) in its deficiency report submitted to the company.

Yesterday, the EMA was supposed to make its decision on an environmental impact assessment (EIA) submitted by Alutrint, but it was postponed.

Alicia Charles, communication manager of the EMA, said no decision had been made because the supplementary report is inefficient.

Alutrint submitted an EIA report to the EMA on February 2 for the construction of a 125,000 metric tonne aluminium smelter at Cap-de-Ville.

The EMA’s review and assessment report was sent to Alutrint noting several deficiencies:

• maps not drawn to scale;

• lack of consultation with a relevant stakeholder;

• mitigation measures regarding noise and air emissions; and,

• issues that pertain to the disposal of hazardous waste.

EMA issues oil spill warning

By Shaliza Hassanali
Trinidad Guardian
October 23, 2006

The Environmental Management Authority (EMA) is warning that any person or company responsible for the Chaguaramas oil spill will feel the full brunt of the law.

The warning came yesterday from Alicia Charles, EMA’s communications specialist, as the organisation continued remedial work along the western peninsula coastline, in wake of a massive oil spill.

The spill was caused after a 500-foot long derelict tanker, the Kelly’s Mark, which was anchored behind Caribbean Dockyard for more than 15 years, started to sink on Tuesday after developing a small leak.

By Wednesday morning, half of the rusty boat, which had submerged, started to spill oil.
Charles said the EMA was yet to locate and speak with the owner/s of the boat.
“Anyone found guilty of breaching the environmental laws will face the full brunt of the law.

“We will deal with this matter very seriously,” a no-nonsense Charles said.

Charles said the EMA had done extensive remedial work, these past three days, to bring the beach back to its original state.

Close to 100 bags of peat moss and several gallons of Simple Green, known as biodegradable and non-toxic chemicals, were thrown into the sea to separate the oil from the water.

“We are trying to prevent the oil from spreading.”

Charles said water samples were taken by the Institute of Marine Affairs for testing.

“All we knew is that the oil came from the engine room of the boat.

“We don’t know if it’s engine oil. These tests will determine this.”

She also explained that officials of the EMA also toured Chaguaramas on Thursday and heard the complaints of yachties and fishermen, whose boats were affected by the oil.

“Their main concern was compensation. I can’t say who is responsible for that.”

Sunday, October 22, 2006


Here's to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The trouble-makers. The round heads in the square holes. The ones who see things differently.

They're not fond of rules, and they have no respect for the status-quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify, or vilify them.

But the only thing you can't do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius.

Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.

Jack Kerouac

Alcoa in Texas

HOUSTON, Oct 19 (Reuters) -
A federal judge has denied TXU Corp.'s (TXU.N: Quote, Profile, Research) request for more time to build a proposed coal-fired power plant to replace an older, dirtier plant near an aluminum smelter in central Texas.
U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks denied a request from Dallas-based TXU and aluminum maker Alcoa Inc. (AA.N: Quote, Profile, Research) that would have allowed TXU to pay a fine in order to take more time to complete construction of the 600-megawatt plant, according to court papers.

TXU has said it cannot complete the plant by a 2007 deadline set by Alcoa. The plant was to be the first of nine coal-fired plants TXU has proposed to build in the state.
Alcoa, in the settlement of a lawsuit by environmental groups, agreed to shut aging coal-fired units at its Rockdale, Texas, smelter, and to build a new power plant by 2007.

Under TXU's plan announced earlier this year, the Sandow 5 plant was scheduled to be the first of nine new coal plants TXU will build in Texas to help meet growing demand for electricity. TXU said Sandow 5 would begin construction this year and begin operating in March 2009, not 2007.

TXU has selected construction and engineering company Bechtel to design and build the unit in Milam County.

Environmental groups have opposed delaying the new power plant beyond the 2007 deadilne that Alcoa agreed to in a consent decree to settle the lawsuit.

The groups, which include Environmental Defense and Public Citizen, now want to force TXU to seek a new permit for the plant that would include more stringent emissiosn standards than currently required.

"TXU wants to build a new power plant, but it doesn't want to get the necessary permits or meet modern standards," said Jim Marston, regional director of Environmental Defense.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Helter Skelter Smelter

BC Pires
Trinidad Expres
October 20, 2006

You think life or the PNM easy? Last Friday, one measly week after I dismissed COP parachute-leader/UNC ship-jumper Winston Dookeran as unworthy, Prime Minister and PNM political leader Patrick Manning himself elevated Dooks to the status of senior electoral threat by singling him out for persecution (i.e., recognition) in Parliament, ahead of the nominees of Basdeo Panday. You'd think Patos would be a little grateful to anyone who said they didn't think Dooks has done what it takes to persuade us all to support him; instead, he makes me look foolish.

And it got weirder over the weekend, when the Prime Minister appeared to coolly announce an abuse of his position and/or power. A mind-numbing terror of losing the next general election to a pickup side headed by a best-we-could-do leader is the preferred one of only two explanations I can think of for Mr Manning's bizarre and dangerous declaration at the PNM convention last Sunday that he knew two COP members would soon be "snatched... by the long arm of the law"; unless it's a case of, once is mistake, twice is habit. Mr Manning, you would recall-and, if you can't, the Privy Council will soon remind you, at a cost of a several million dollars in legal expenses, when they deliver their judgement-that Mr Manning has opened his mouth before and let, not just 'tory, but possibly defence and counterc'aim jump out, when he suggested to Chief Justice Sat Sharma that Sharma resign and spare the country the embarrassment of the criminal prosecution of the leader of the judiciary.

The Prime Minister's declaration that he knows two COPpers will be snatched by the law comes "dangerously close" (as the judges say when they want to hint that something is in fact so, but they're not going to actually say so just yet) to giving credibility to the CJ's charges that he was set up for political reasons. It is unthinkable that a sitting prime minister could even contemplate such a statement-yet it has been made, with defiance, has drawn the fire of the DPP and his own Attorney General, and has not been retracted or passed off as a joke, like when he told people to watch TV instead of having sex; as if cable could ever be that good (Showtime's Late Night excluded). Since he has revealed he wants to go into preaching when he's done politicking, I have no doubt he prayed on it -but he obviously didn't firetrucking think about it.

If it wasn't fear of the COP that made Patos talk that faecal matter, it could only be delusions of grandeur. Has he exhibited those before? I'm imagining a line of intelligent people at the convention, groaning inwardly, even as they grinned and took it, thinking, "How we going to defend this now?" Who, amongst his loyal troops, will tell Mr Manning that he has by himself made Mr Duck & Run more palatable across the board?

My own guess is, the PNM ought not to be terrified of, nor even worried about the COP since time will probably show the COP support to be the same hopeful handful of people who voted in the Keith Noel Referendum and who think of themselves as citizens with responsibilities as well as rights. But Mr Manning, and his attitude to the COP and Dooks, may turn out to be the best weapon they have.

Non-aligned people-and perhaps even some PNMs-share the worry of the COP and UNC about what a PNM government with a constitutional majority will be like if one effectively elected by 1253 people in three constituencies treats the rest of us as poorly as this one. If they are willing to ram their version of morality down our throats now, what will an executive president with a direct line to God do? Will oral sex be declared illegal? Will fornication be banned? Will women be required to wear clothing that does not provoke lust in men? It sounds over the top, perhaps-but suppose I'd asked, last Friday, would a Prime Minister accused of trying to remove a Chief Justice for political reasons declare that two of his political opponents would soon be arrested? Or, would an abortion ban be sneaked into a Constitution? The over the top and the everyday are a blink apart in modern Trinidad.

If you want a metaphor for this administration, it is not the collapsed Tarouba sporting facility that Brian Lara is probably wishing they'd named after Ricky Ponting. Look behind the holier-than-thou posture adopted to cover what is actually the Devil-may-care handing over of our own precious agricultural land to heavy foreign industry if you want the sign of the PNM times: the smelter-in-the-park. Doesn't that sound suspicious, just from what they called it? If you advocate a smelter-in-the-park, what's your next bright idea? Daycare-in-a-crack house?

The more time passes, the more it is revealed that the PNM does not care about the country, only about staying in office-no matter how genuine their individual commitment to the country's interest might be. If you cannot disagree with something as monumentally stupid as a smelter-in-the-park or as openly threatening as the Prime Minister announcing criminal prosecutions at a political rally like Kim Jong-il, the time may yet, or even soon, come when an illegitimate-but-legal leader like Kamla or a just-as-illegitimate-but-more-popular leader like Dooks may become more attractive than one appointed by God-if only to prevent Him from acquiring the power to smite the wicked.

-BC Pires is only a messenger sinner. You can e-mail your Kevlar three-piece suits
to him at bcmaverick@tstt.net.tt

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Direct Action Alert: Trinidad and Iceland stage joint protest in London

Check out the story at Saving Iceland

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

More Comments on the Alutrint EIA

Tuesday October 10th 2006

The Corporate Secretary

Environmental Management Authority,

8, Elizabeth Street, St Clair,

Port of Spain

Dear Madam,

We are pleased to submit the following comments in respect of the EIA Supplementary Report for ALUTRINT, August 2006.

Dr Peter Vine

Dr Wayne Kublalsingh

Comments on the EIA Supplementary Report for ALUTRINT

August 2006


It is unacceptable that ALUTRINT failed to meet the regulatory bodies, Town and Country planning and the Ministry of Energy and Energy Industries. Even the meeting with the Ministry of Labour, according to the minutes, did not lead to adequate arrangements for ensuring the safety of workers.


ALUTRINT’S response to the EMA’s question is flawed. An invitation to a member of PSAEL, private unpublished consultations with selected members of the La Brea community, and an ALUTRINT newsletter are no substitute for a public consultation as stipulated by law. Additionally, the applicant is under the misapprehension that a public consultation need involve only members of the La Brea community; any national of Trinidad and Tobago is legally entitled to attend and make comments. The applicant misunderstands the definition of consultation; questions and comments are expected to be answered. This did not occur in the public consultations. Second, a consultation must include the possibility that the majority of the participants reject the proposal to build a smelter; it is not meant to simply quiet the fears of participants and mollify opinion in favour of the applicant. The open rejection of the smelter by “a recently formed anti-smelter group” is not illegitimate and must be taken into account. The applicant’s notion that the so called “anti-smelter protest group had the sole intention of disrupting the proceedings” is unfounded; these persons sought genuine answers to questions, and desired that the applicant take note of their comments. Far from this intervention defeating the full potential of the community consultation process, it constitutes the very essence of consultation.


The EMA commented that the risk assessment did not address the long-term human and ecological health risks. The EMA also required a human health risk assessment. The applicant’s responses are unacceptable. It is incomprehensible that the applicant ignored the request from the public for health data from similar smelter plants in China. The idea of waiting for twenty-five years to know whether there will be any health risks is immoral and unacceptable. The applicant claims to have adjusted the emissions to be equal to the maximum allowable levels; this is unreliable, since any minimal positive deviation will send the pollution over the limit.

It is unacceptable to state that “the La Brea area is not an agricultural community and thus the need to protect food crops and farm animals with a stringent HF standard does not arise.” This statement implies that residents may not raise any type of farm animals or food crops in the La Brea community. This indicates intolerable living conditions.

If the pollution limits are now to be measured at the outer periphery of the buffer zone the idea of a buffer zone is defeated. One must not redefine the boundary in order for the pollution levels at the boundary to appear more favourable. Redefining the boundaries is an attempt to make the pollution figures appear favourable, without actually reducing the pollution.


ALUTRINT has not adequately answered the EMA’s comment on SPL disposal. Even though a hazardous waste disposal facility may become available, the EMA has not sanctioned its use for SPL.


No plus or minus accuracy limits have been supplied for the air emission maps. This was specifically requested by members of the public.


Merely citing the names of technical organizations involved is not a scientific method of assuring us of the adequacy of the analysis.

Micro climate factors have been disregarded but these cannot be disregarded especially in relation to emissions from the eaves and windows of the plant and in relation to turbulence near ground level.


It is estimated that 1572 foreign workers would be hired for the construction phase and 410 locals. However, the hiring company concerned has not given a guarantee on these figures, and there could be considerably fewer locals. This seriously diminishes the economic benefit of the project to Trinidad and Tobago.

Dr Peter Vine

Dr Wayne Kublalsingh

The University of the West Indies

St Augustine

Monday, October 02, 2006

Aluminium and Jamaica

"I was a very young reporter at The Gleaner in 1952 when the first
shipment of Jamaican bauxite left for the United States aboard the SS
Carl Schmedeman, an ore carrier built for Reynolds Jamaica Mines. Since
that time, we have exported hundreds of millions of tons of bauxite and
alumina, we have lost mountains, valleys, churches , graveyards, houses,
and schools to the inexorable bite of the bauxite draglines and we've
sacrificed children's lungs and the roofs of houses to the pollution
from alumina refining.

We don't have much to show for it except some suspect foreign exchange
earnings figures and a small class of specially privileged people who
are supported by the industry.

One would have thought that in 50 years an industry as profitable as
this might have clubbed together to donate a trade school to one of the
communities they ravage. Only Kaiser, under Don Tretzel, ever seemed
conscious of its community responsibility. The others have simply gone
their merry way rejoicing at the fools who let them have their bauxite
cheap and do not insist on the proper restoration of mined-out lands as
specified in agreements and licences since 1944.

The aluminium industry is one of the worst polluters on earth, and in
Jamaica their record is dismal. Alcan, the Canadian twin separated from
Alcoa when Alcoa became too big even for the USA, has bequeathed to us
two environmental time bombs in the form of red mud lakes at Mount
Rosser and Mandeville. There is evidence that the St Catherine
groundwater has, for some years, been polluted by Mount Rosser."

John Maxwell

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Chatham denies rape link

by Kim Boodram
Trinidad Express
October 01, 2006

The Chatham Anti-Smelter Movement yesterday denied any involvement in last Monday's brutal gang-rape of a young woman. They have also called on Point Fortin Member of Parliament Larry Achong to resign.
A group of mostly women and children gathered at Food Crop Junction, where an anti-smelter camp has been set up, to voice their "disgust" over the incident and sympathise with the victim.
"We would like to categorically deny any involvement in this demonic act," said Fitzroy Beache, head of the Chatham Anti-Smelter Movement during a press briefing yesterday. "We are also pained that anyone would suggest that we would do this to one of our own."
Last Monday night, four men beat and robbed a known supporter of the aluminium smelter project, which has been proposed by the Government and is to be built by American giant, Alcoa. A female relative of the man was gang-raped. Alcoa officials later alleged that they had confirmed a link between the attack and the anti-smelter movement. Police investigating the matter have denied any known link. Alcoa has not responded to this newspaper's calls for a further comment or for evidence of the link.
In a highly emotional state, Chatham's elder, Yvonne Ashby, said they believed the attack was an attempt to divide and frighten the community. The movement wants the country to know that their fight is against Alcoa and the Government, not with anyone in their community or the Southwestern Peninsula.
"We want you to know that this has not split our group, we are now more in love! Our heart goes out to our sister and now we will only love them more," Ashby cried.
She said a culture of violence is creeping into Chatham with the arrival of Alcoa and the community will never allow them to settle there.
"Take your filthy lucre and go! We don't want you here! Leave us alone," Ashby shouted.
Beache said they are "extremely disappointed" that such a serious allegation was levelled against them with no supporting evidence. It is frightening, he said, that a foreign group wields this type of power.
Adding that Chatham has been treated as "nobody" by the Government, they have also called for the resignation of Point Fortin Larry Achong, who has frequently and publicly declared war on the movement.
Following the arrest of several activists two weeks ago, Achong remarked -"They shoulda arrest forty and beat them."
"Today we call for the resignation of Larry Achong," Beache declared. "Mr Achong, you have failed to represent us. You have failed to show the compassion and concern one expects from an elected representative."
Chatham has also appealed to the national community for support.
"We have tried every which way to meet with Mr Achong and Prime Minister Patrick Manning. We have met only brick walls of contempt. They have ignored us, as if we are nobody. If this is a community of 'nobodies', then what about your community? Are you next?