Saturday, December 09, 2006

Chatham women to hold smelter talks

by Lara Pickford-Gordon
December 9, 2006

Chatham Women for the Protection of the Environment will be hosting a symposium next Wednesday from 5 pm to 9 pm at the Learning Resource Centre, University of the West Indies’ St Augustine campus.

“This symposium will illustrate in a simple and logical manner the costs and any potential benefits of the proposed aluminium smelting industry in TT,” Muriel Amoroso, head of the Women’s group said at a media briefing yesterday at the office of YES TT at Roberts St Woodbrook.

Amoroso said the group was prepared to take the issue internationally . “We have taken it to the highest person in the world and that is God. We are saying the PM is forgetting who is the creator of heaven and earth,” Amoroso said.

She added that the group is looking for more people to join them and have more pressure groups formed in the country. Amoroso called for religious groups to hold prayer and fasting sessions and she extended an open invitation to interested persons to attend the forum. She stressed that the group did not have a political agenda although Amoroso admitted she once was a candidate for Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj’s now defunct party Team Unity. Dr Peter Vine, Industrial and Agriculture Physicist; Doolin Maharaj of the Women’s group and Wayne Kublalsingh, UWI lecturer in Liberal Arts, were present at the meeting.

Vine said the reliability of data being put out by the proponents of the smelter should be questioned. He said there were problems getting a technical report on the emissions and performance of the Chinese smelter which is the type proposed by the Alutrint smelter (at La Brea). He said there were flaws in the data collection exercise. A map produced by Environmental Impact Assessment indicated that the vegetation at Alcoa’s proposed site (at Chatham) was scrub and abandoned plantations. However, he said a large percentage of the area to be used for the factory was high forest. Vine said Alcoa has put PVC in two areas at the site. He believed this was done to test soil permeability.

Vine said, “On the basis of measuring in two places on a highly variable site puts a lot of doubt on the data they are collecting.”

Kublalsingh said projections should be done on the impact of the smelters on the flora and fauna.

He said “modelling” has been done indicating that the smelter would only eliminate small amounts of particle matter. However, Kublalsingh said the cumulative impact of these particles posed a threat to fisheries, flora and food supply in TT. He said the Health Ministry should do a study on the health impacts.

“A smelter is not going to knock you down in a week or two it is in 30 years, 40 years,”

Kublalsingh said relocation of residents and installing of gas pipes were other costs. The symposium will have three panel discussions. Speaking on the Health and Environment panel will be members of the Women’s group, economist Dennis Pantin, Professor Julian Kenny. The Economics and Energy panel will comprise Senator Mary King, Vine and a representative of the National Energy Corporation (NEC). And on the Alternative Industries panel are Professor John Spence, Petra Bridgemohan and former Agriculture Society President Wendy Lee Yuen.


Post a Comment

<< Home