Wednesday, Judy Mohammed recalled a peaceful time when she
and her neighbours at Pranz Gardens, off Claxton Bay, enjoyed
the swaying of cane stalks against the skyline.
These days, Mohammeds house, like that of her neighbours,
is filled with sand and dust coming from the clearing of
the site to build an $8 billion steel smelter on a 600-acre
site bordering the village.
And the once-quiet village is constantly bombarded with
the noises of trucks and bulldozers tearing down the hillsides
that were once planted with sugar cane.
Mohammed, and the 1,200 villagers of Pranz Gardens, are
living in fear of the Essar steel plant, with its plumes
of iron oxide dust and the incessant noise associated with
But Mohammed, 38, the mother of one and a draughtsman by
profession, is not about quietly accepting this fate that
has been thrust upon her and that jeopardises the life she
and her husband spent the last 13 years building together.
She has chosen to fight back, joining the movement to stop
the construction of the steel plant. And she is calling
on the women of the Pranz Gardens, community to speak up,
not just for their future but for the future of their children.
Speaking at a town meeting last week she noted that not
only would the steel smelter have implications on Pranz
Gardens but also would affect the Savonetta private housing
community and parts of Claxton Bay and Sum Sum Hill.
The Government failed to have any meaningful consultations
with the villagers, she said, noting that the Government
did hold talks, though, with people who supported the establishment
of the steel smelter.
She feels better planning was called for; that the plant
could have been, for example, located on lands near the
coast, south of Orange Valley. At this location, the dust
and noise would not have created a problem for anyone, she
Dr Peter Vine, industrial and agricultural physicist, speaking
at a town meeting on Wednesday, explained the implications
of living in close proximity to a steel smelter.
He said that while the current dust problem was a localised
one, the Essar plant would contribute to the faster consumption
of T&Ts natural gas supply; if no more gas was
discovered, current supplies are projected to run out by
He said even if natural gas was to be discovered at the
rate of five per cent of the existing supplies annually,
the projected industrial plants could consume this irreplaceable
natural resource by 2022.
Speaking on what he called serious doubts on
the technical side of the Essar project, Vine, displaying
a map of the site, showed where communities were located
downwind in relation to the plant.
He said an alternative option would be to relocate the communities.
He also noted that the site of the plant was land originally
allocated to VSEP-availed Caroni (1975) Ltd workers for
agriculture but was then taken back to facilitate industrialisation.
Farmers could have made good business out of
agriculture in that area since it was closer to their homes,
Vine also reviewed the Mittal steel plants operations
to show what was likely to happen with the Essar plant.
He noted the dust plume of the Mittal electric arc furnace
and that the company used 200MW electricity for its two
electric arc and two electric ladle furnaces.
Essar, on the other, proposes to have one arc furnace and
one ladle furnace, in the first instance, and then expand,
he said, adding:
would come up to the same capacity as Ispat (Mittal).
He also noted that Essar proposed to make steel in the same
manner as Mittal.
see that dust coming out of Ispat (Mittal), the greatest
amount coming out of the smelter area where they have the
electric arc furnaces.
He said running a power plant required efficient management
to avoid atmospheric contaminants such as carbon dioxide,
greenhouse gases, carbon monoxide and sulfur dioxide.
Essars proposal was not so different from Mittal when
it came to dust control, he said, noting that Mittal had
installed an inefficient bagging plant to trap the dust,
If they see the dust coming out, they say the monster