Friday, February 09, 2007

Alutrint is the Tipping Point

For Immediate Release

The Anti-Smelter Alliance (ASA) has written to the Board of the Environmental Management Authority (EMA) requesting a meeting to explain why ALUTRINT’S application for a Certificate of Environmental Clearance (CEC) to smelt aluminium at Union Industrial Estate should be denied.

For the second time the ASA has written to the Chairman of the Board of the EMA requesting a meeting to explain why the “Precautionary Principle” provided for in the National Environmental Policy should be invoked to deny ALUTRINT’s application for permission to build an aluminium smelter at Union Industrial Estate (UIE).
The ASA comprises more than ten non-governmental organizations opposed to the introduction of aluminium smelters into T&T.
Environmental Engineer and ASA spokesperson Cathal Healy-Singh, said “there are four main reasons why no CEC should be awarded to ALUTRINT:
(i) a detailed integrated cost-benefit analysis was never carried out , which means that the social, economic and environmental impacts – both positive and negative - remain unquantified
(ii) the cumulative impacts of the cluster of heavy gas based industries proposed for Union Industrial Estate also remain unknown
(iii) unreliable toxic emissions predictions made by ALUTRINT are on the borderline of the EMA’s proposed air quality guidelines
(iv) the EMA lacks the appropriate regulatory instruments to contain the toxic operational impacts of an aluminium smelter.”

“There are too many people living too close to the ALUTRINT smelter to proceed. The toxic releases are no joke. There has never been any final resolution to what ALUTRINT will do with their spent pot liner – a very hazardous waste. First they suggested burying it on-site. Then they said they could mix it with cement and now they want to ship it to the USA. In my estimate, it would be unprecedented and frankly ridiculous to assume the USA would accept on-going toxic waste shipments from Trinidad,” Healy-Singh said.
The NGO’s that constitute the Anti-Smelter Alliance hold the position that it is irresponsible for ALUTRINT to be exploiting the economic dispossession of a large sector of the La Brea community as a means to advance their smelter, knowing fully well that the lion’s share of jobs is for the Chinese.
It is unconscionable for ALUTRINT to be compromising the integrity of the local Village Councils by financing full-page press advertisements saying the Councils “cannot afford to lose ALUTRINT”, knowing fully well that no cost-benefit analyses have been done, and knowing that ALUTRINT has never made public any data on the actual toxic emissions or health impacts on surrounding communities from similar Chinese smelters.
The ASA has prepared an outline of the cost-benefits, which they wish to share with the EMA at the proposed meeting. “Because of the widespread public opposition to smelters, we saw the withdrawal of the Chatham smelter and introduction of the O
Otaheite smelter as smokescreens to advance ALUTRINT through the side door. But if the EMA approves this smelter it will erode what few gains they have made in trying to emerge a platform for national sustainable development - we are at the tipping point of unsustainability” said Healy-Singh.


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