Tuesday 26th December, 2006

 

Anti-smelter lobbyists still up in arms

 
 
 
 
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By Shaliza Hassanali

Representatives of two organisations who lobbied bitterly against Alcoa’s proposed aluminium smelter at Cap de Ville/Chatham, yesterday hit out at Government’s plan to accelerate development of a new industrial estate offshore Otaheite Bank, from which aluminium production can be pursued, together with other industrial plants.

The announcement was made by Prime Minister Patrick Manning on Sunday night in his Christmas and year-end review statements.

In light of that announcement, Government can expect massive protest from people living between Mosquito Creek to Aripero Village, who warned that they would give no support to Manning’s new plan.

Government will however continue with the Alutrint plant at La Brea, which could form the basis for further aluminium production facilities in the country.

In a telephone interview, secretary of Fishermen and Friends of the Sea, Gary Aboud said while anti smelter activists and supporters are claiming this stand down as a major victory for the community, it will not change the environmental impacts and health concerns that were highlighted by environmentalists months ago.

“These problems would not go away. We are just shifting the problem from one area to another,” Aboud said.

Aboud also complained that the relocation would wipe out all fish life in the Gulf of Paria.

As it stands, Aboud said, the fish industry was struggling to keep its head above water due to Government lack of support and interest.

Pointing out that the Gulf of Paria was prone to flooding, Aboud said that the Government would also have to spend million of dollars in pile driving to develop the area, which does not have firm soil.

Also of concern to Aboud are the disposal of spent potliners and the price at which gas will be sold when the smelter plant comes on stream, as well as the amount of water to be consumed.

“Citizens of the country continue to remain in the dark with regards to these issues. The Government is not coming clean. We need answers,” he said.

Chairman of Yes TT and the Keith Noel 136 Committee, Stephen Cadiz, described the news as utter madness, stating that his organisation and thousands of other people are not in support of smelters in T&T.

“I think Manning bounced his head by making this move. We have only shifted the issue to another area, which is even more populated, Cadiz said, adding that nothing would surprise him anymore.

“I don’t know what Manning was thinking when he came up with this idea. It makes no sense at all,” he said.

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