By Stephen Kangal
December 17, 2006
Re: Mandatory Conduct of an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Prior to the Award of a Certificate of Environmental Certificate (CEC) for the Design, Build, Operate and Manage (DBOM) Contract for the Establishment of the Rapid Rail System (RRS) by the Ministry of Works and Transport
I have the honour to bring to the attention of the EMA that it must insist that the Ministry of Works and Transport should apply to the Authority for the issue of the appropriate Certificate of Environmental Clearance prior to the award of an international tender to establish the proposed billion dollar 120km Rapid Rail System (RRS) from Diego Martin to Sangre Grande and from POS to San Fernando.
I wish to note that the said Ministry of Works has been requested by the EMA to undertake consultations with the stakeholders on the extension of the Churchill Roosevelt Highway eastwards to Manzanilla as well as the proposed extension of the Solomon Hochoy Highway to Point Fortin prior to the award of the requisite Certificate of Environmental Clearance (CEC). The RRS involves greater potential negative social, public health, environmental and noise pollution impact than the above-mentioned Highway extensions.
This proposed new rail transport facility will during the building and operational stages have the following adverse impact on both the physical, ambient and human (public health) environment:
- Increased noise and dust pollution during the construction stage arising from the drilling by noisy machines of the roadway to embed the rails in the asphalt surfaces of the PBR;
- Potential damage/danger to the eyes of residents from the massive and widespread amount of welding procedures and the emission of noxious gases associated with welding.
- Residents living in the vicinity of the RRS will be deprived of their right to the quiet enjoyment of their property especially at nights and early in the morning from the rattle of trains;
- Trains travelling at speeds in excess of 80 mph with long carriages will increase the level of dust pollution in the ambient environment. Dust and Sahara dust pollution are already a serious growing health risk in T&T resulting in the increasing incidence of asthmatic complaints across T&T;
- This RRS will pose a serious risk to the health and safety of persons/passengers in the immediate vicinity of the railway track and other road systems;
- The price of real estate located in the vicinity of the RRS will deteriorate to the financial detriment of the owners.
- Building an RRS in the immediate vicinity of large gas lines is a major pollution risk and a challenge to the safety of passengers.
- Increased carbon monoxide emissions owing to greater traffic congestion resulting from the two year closure of the PBR.
Accordingly I wish to recommend that having regard to its mandate to act with consistency to protect the health of citizens, the EMA should inform the said Ministry immediately of its obvious compulsory obligations relating to the submission of an application for the conduct of a CEC prior to the award of the well -advertised tender.
The Ministry must also apply to the EMA for the terms of reference for the conduct of the requisite EIA.
A copy of a newspaper article that I wrote on the above-mentioned considerations that was published in the Newsday and Mirror of 17 and 26 November 2006 respectively is enclosed for your information.