Friday, December 01, 2006

12 Reasons for No Smelters in T&T

1) Aluminium smelters are notoriously dangerous to human health and environment . These industries use large quantities of hazardous substances which, if ingested even in the tiniest of quantities, WILL result in cancer. Smelters generate complex toxic wastes which are very difficult, expensive and energy consuming to dispose of safely. Both ALCOA & ALUTRINT are proposing to ship their waste to USA. Toxic shipments from the developing world to USA would be unprecedented.

2) ‘Developed Nation States’ are eliminating aluminium smelters and other high risk heavily polluting industries and cleaning up toxic waste. No new smelters have been built in the USA in the last 25 years. These ‘heavy gas based industries’ are all moving into countries in the Southern Hemisphere where workers rights, labor costs and environmental legislation are weak and insufficient, and where “dotish” governments are prepared to sacrifice public and environmental health for perceived short-term economic gains.

3) All over the world, heavy gas based industries have contributed to a break down in climate and global warming. Aluminium smelters release green house gases which increase the scale and intensity of hurricanes. With these smelters, T&T will further sabotage the Kyoto Protocol and become the largest per capita Global ‘Soca’ Polluter. Smelters were noted as being particularly destructive in Al Gore’s book. The movie “an inconvenient truth” which IS NOW SHOWING AND MUST BE SEEN BY EVERY TRINBAGONIAN.

4) In July 2005, ALCOA and the National Energy Corporation (NEC) submitted a joint application to the EMA for a Certificate of Environmental Clearance (signed by Prakash Saith) for the Chatham smelter, even though the smelter is wholly owned by ALCOA. ALCOA went on to spend big dollars in our newspaper trying to whitewash the truth of elevated cancer risks associated with smelters with slogans like “Building Sustainable Communities” and “Supporting Women of Substance”.

5) ALUTRINT is owned by the T&T Government (60%) and a Venezuelan private company (40%) which is reportedly hostile to the Chavez Government. ALCOA supplies aluminium to the USA’s ‘Defense’ Department to fight their on-going “War of Terror”. THESE INDUSTRIES WOULD INTRODUCE INCALCULABLE HOMELAND INSECURITY INTO T&T (check ALCOA’s website for multi-million dollar sales contracts to armament industries).

6) In 2003, the Environmental Management Authority (EMA) approved the clearing 800 acres of land at Union Industrial Estate (UIE) to make way for ALUTRINT without knowing what the impact of the intended use of that land would be! It is now reviewing separate Certificates of Environmental Clearance (CEC) for aluminium smelting, electricity production, and port, harbour and shipping infrastructure, when all these are integrated components of ALUTRINT’S footprint. This fragmented CEC process is fatally flawed.

Furthermore, the land clearing for UIE was based on an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) written by the Institute of Marine Affairs (IMA). They also wrote the EIA to clear 1,500 acres of pristine Chatham lands for ALCOA. This EMA decision is still pending. The IMA is arguably not qualified to assess the impact of a large industrial footprint on land. The IMA is currently without a Board and has been incorporated into the University of T&T (UTT). (check out “Something Smelting Fishy”, Edward Ramdass’ anti-smelter song).

7) ALUTRINT’s smelter technology was developed at the North Eastern University of China and is being financed by the Chinese Government. This technology has never been tested outside of China.
The ALUTRINT Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) failed to include a single shred of information on the health records of employees working at a similar smelter plant in China yet, this is the most important data that our EMA needs to assess the impact of this industry on worker’s health.

8) THE RECENTLY WATERED DOWN OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY ACT (2006) DOES NOT PROVIDE ADEQUATE PROTECTION TO WORKERS in an aluminium smelting industry, as it denies them the right to refuse to work in conditions they consider to be hazardous to their health.

9) A review of the ALUTRINT EIA submitted to the EMA in January 2006 revealed that their declared toxic emissions would contravene the EMA’s draft Air Quality Standard for Fluoride. In response to the EMA’s expressed concern over this, Renda Butler, Managing Director of ALUTRINT declared to the EMA’s CEO on 18th August, 2006, “We believe that the proposed draft 2005 Air Pollution Standards are unnecessarily stringent for industrial sites”. ALUTRINT WENT ON TO MAKE AN “ECONOMIC BENEFITS” ARGUMENT TO SUPPORT THEIR CASE (Alutrint Position Paper, Supplemental Report, August, 2006).

Over a year ago, in a letter dated 18th November, 2005, Steven Myers, Environmental Manager, ALCOA wrote more candidly in reference to the same Standard, that it was “unnecessarily stringent and cannot be achieved using best available economic technology for an aluminium smelter.” Despite this, ALCOA’s media personality and Director Wade Hughes has repeatedly sought to mislead the public saying “the proposed smelter will meet internationally accepted standards for the protection of the environment and human health…including those recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO)”.

10) Smelters require vast amounts of energy. If ALUTRINT and ALCOA together smelt their intended 466,000 Metric Tons of aluminium per year, they would require more than double the total amount of electricity consumed per capita in T&T in 2005 - for all sectors combined. (assuming ALCOA’s estimate of 15 KW-h of electricity to smelt 1Kg of Aluminium website information is reliable).

Retired Energy Expert Reginald Potter says “we have 12.9 years of proven gas reserves and in a few years shortages will occur” (Express 12th August, 2006)

Yet, despite huge energy needs of smelters, the current Government has failed to follow our National Environmental Policy (NEP), which requires “political, administrative and technical support to enable a SYSTEMATIC ASSESSMENT OF THE EXTERNAL COSTS AND BENEFITS OF EXPLOITING FOSSIL ENERGY RESOURCES…These assessments will be used to determine those uses that contribute to DEVELOPMENT THAT IS ECONOMICALLY, SOCIALLY, AND ENVIRONMENTALLY SUSTAINABLE.” (NEP 2005).

The National Energy Corporation has failed to demonstrate why a smelter in Venezuela or Guyana using renewable hydro-power and development of a down stream aluminium industry in Trinidad, is not more economical than operating the smelters here on our non-renewable and shrinking gas reserves.

11) In 2003 Trinidad & Tobago became a signatory to the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative which requires “full publication and verification of company payments and government revenues from oil, gas and mining.” It was signed by Senator The Honourable Christine Sahadeo at a 17th June, 2003 London Conference attended by Tony Blair. She said “I wish to reiterate my Government’s support for this Initiative and its commitment to adhering to the Statement of Principles.” Despite this international commitment to transparency, sometime in early 2005, without any consultation, the current Prime Minister offered ALCOA Chatham lands and signed a secret deal to provide them with cheap gas. To date he has refused disclosure.

12) According to residents of Union Village and environs, they only get water two half-days per week, if they are lucky. Yet, in a letter dated 14th June, 2006, WASA’s General Manager, Business Services, Mr. Godfrey Ventour, ambitiously “guaranteed ALUTRINT a daily supply of 2,444 m3 of water coming from the Caroni Water Works”. THIS MEANS THAT OVER 12,000 ADDITIONAL PERSONS IN T&T WILL GO WITHOUT WATER EVERY DAY!

The days when old party politics divided the national community to mask the capture of our wealth by foreign and minority local interests are over. The time is come for all Citizens of our Republic to reap sustainable benefits from our Nation’s wealth as the primary means to fight crime and poverty.


For more information
write to and visit the Anti-Smelter Camp, South UWI.


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