Chatham residents win smelter war

By Corey Connelly
http://www.guardian.co.tt

Aluminum SmelterGovernment has decided to immediately discontinue all plans to establish an Alcoa aluminium smelter on the Cap-de-Ville estate, Prime Minister Patrick Manning signalled yesterday.

“Instead, we shall accelerate development of a new industrial estate offshore at Otaheite Bank from which aluminium production can now be pursued together with other industrial plants,” Manning said in a televised Christmas Day address to the nation.

The PM said the Government would also continue with the Alutrint plant at La Brea, which, he indicated, could form the basis for further aluminium production facilities in T&T.

In a ten-page address, Manning declared that the proposed aluminium smelters, earmarked for the south-western peninsula, presented “no manageable threat” to either the environment or to the health of the population.

Government has come under fire from residents of south Trinidad and environmental activists who have asked that authorities reconsider the move which, they said, could pose serious health and environmental risks.

The controversial issue, which has elicited the views of prominent members of civil-society organisations, was the main topic at a special symposium at Paria Suites, La Romaine, recently.

Referring to the symposium, which he described as “quite successful,” Manning said:

“It is an accepted fact that all industrialisation must be managed. Our symposium produced the very salient conclusion that the two proposed aluminium smelters present no unmanageable threat either to the environment or to the health of the population.”

He noted that the Environmental Management Authority (EMA) was entrusted with the responsibility to set standards for all industrial activity “to which we ensure strict adherence.”

The PM said the symposium concluded that on health and environmental grounds “there was no bar to the establishment of an aluminium industry in Trinidad and Tobago and that such risks as may exist are quite manageable.”

He added: “The Government is now able to arrive at conclusions based on the symposium.”

Manning reiterated that the EMA had set the strictest standards for the pursuit of aluminium smelting facilities in the country “and the Government will ensure that all standards of health and environmental safety are met.”

The PM said the coming of an aluminium smelter was of great importance in the new industrialisation of T&T.

“Like plastics, aluminium is also used in a great variety of manufacturing activity,” he said.

“This year, we have made good progress towards this goal.”

Commenting on the PM’s announcement, anti-smelter activist Wayne Kublalsingh said:

“What Alcoa has done is that they have moved the king on the chest board one move to the left and, unfortunately, that king is Patrick Manning.”

Kublalsingh, a lecturer in the liberal arts department of the University of the West Indies, claimed that, if anything, the move showed clearly how indebted the PM was to the foreign corporation.

“The people of Chatham and T&T have been crying out to him to stop the smelter and he did not stop it from Chatham because of what the people were saying, but because they found there was too much water on the Chatham/Cap-de-Ville site,” he added.

Kublalsingh said the new plan reaffirmed the suspicion that Manning “is willing to be used as a giant pawn by Alcoa while refusing to listen to the people.”

©2005-2006 Trinidad Publishing Company Limited

3 Responses to “Chatham residents win smelter war”


  • This is what I would consider, ” Government of the people and by the people” It is important that all politicans should keep in mind that they were elected to promote the welfare of all citizens and to do the “right thing”.

  • No smelter in Chatham

    By NewsDay Reporter, http://www.newsday.co.tt
    Monday, December 25 2006

    THE PEOPLE of Cap-de-Ville, of which Chatham is a part, have received an unexpected Christmas gift from Prime Minister Patrick Manning who yesterday announced that no aluminium smelter will be built in their community.

    Manning, in his Christmas address to the nation last evening, said the decision comes after the Paria Suites symposium on aluminium smelters, which he commissioned following mounting pressure from anti-smelter lobbyists from Cap-de-Ville — the strongest opposition coming from Chatham.

    “The Government is now able to arrive at conclusions based on the symposium.We have decided to immediately discontinue all plans to establish an industrial estate in Cap-de-Ville,” said Manning. The smelter, which was to be built by Alcoa Inc, would have been part of the industrial estate. But the announcement does not mean that Government has backed down from developing aluminium smelters. It is just changing the location, said Manning.

    “Instead, we shall accelerate development of a new industrial estate offshore at Otaheite Bank from which aluminium production can now be pursued together with other industrial plants,” the Prime Minister said.

    And Government will continue with the construction of the Alutrint plant in La Brea which could also form the basis for “further aluminium production facilities in this country.” Unlike the people of Chatham, the people of La Brea have been openly supportive of the Alutrint smelter. Manning’s announcement was timed to coincide with the Christmas celebrations, as it had been sent to media houses since Friday but release was embargoed until 7.30 last evening. It has also come just as former attorney general Ramesh Lawarence Maharaj filed a constitututional motion, on Friday, to prevent construction of the Alcoa smelter in Chatham. Maharaj had informed Manning by letter of his action.

    Reaffirming the Government’s position to develop the aluminium industry, the Prime Minister said significant progress was made toward this goal this year and the Paria Suites symposium, held on December 6, “has helped in determining the direction that we must now follow.”

    Manning said the salient conclusion emerging from the symposium was that the two proposed aluminium smelters “present no unmanageable threat either to the environment or to the health of the population.”

    “The symposium therefore concluded that on health and environment grounds, there was no bar to the establishment of an aluminium industry in Trinidad and Tobago and that such risks as may exist are quite manageable,” he added.

    He reiterated that the Environmental Management Authority has set “the strictest standards” for the establishment of aluminium smelting facilities and Government will ensure that all of these health and environmental safety standards are met. Contacted yesterday, Energy Minister Dr Lenny Saith said he could not comment because the Prime Minister’s speech was embargoed.

    Manning said the aluminium industry is part of over US$8 billion (TT$50 billion) in energy sector projects which will assist Government’s ongoing efforts to diversify the economy in 2007.

    http://www.newsday.co.tt/news/0,49699.html

  • I am Trinidadian, Canadian, Living in Newfoundland, Canada for the past 35 years. It’s my first time reading your articles, and I must say enjoying it. Keep up the good work, I will from this day on go to your web site to be informed on what is going on in my contry.

Comments are currently closed.