Posted: Wednesday, October 27, 2004
by Linda Edwards
Haliburton sets off a blast in Erin. It shakes up the place. Haliburton sets off a second blast in Erin. It shatters people's houses, scares old women, makes the cats arch their backs, makes the dogs begin howling, and makes many people nervous. No one, outside of Haliburton, not the EMA, not the government of TnT know what Haliburton was blowing up. No one, not the EMA, not the government of TnT knows the effect, toxic or not, of what Haliburton blew up, on the people of Erin, or the people of Trinidad and Tobago generally. No one knows if they got a permit to explode anything, and if so from whom. Haliburton, global conglomerate, may be too big to ask them any damn questions.
It's a news item of interest, minor interest perhas, to the people in far away Port-of-Spain, whose houses are not in Erin, whose eardrums are not shattered, and who do not have to inhale the toxic fumes from whatever Haliburton was exploding.
Somebody needs to ask, "What the Hell is going on here?" Haliburton does not need a permit to explode material twice near people's houses, not even, perhaps toxic material?
Now Haliburton, you know, is a company bigger than little Trinidad and Tobago, and like the United Fruit Company in Belize, they have so much influence they could own the place. In fact Haliburton's world-wide assets exceed the GNP of Trinidad and Tobago, so the company can have all of TnT in its pocket, including the poor people of Erin who live near the explosion site, and are affected by it.
So can one poor person ask, exactly how many more blasts does Haliburton plan for Erin? Is this waste material they are getting rid of toxic or not? Did it originate in Trinidad and Tobago, or was it imported there from another country where this mega-company has installations? There is a problem with certain kinds of waste disposal in some countries, and there is a tendency to ship those things to small countries where officials are not minding the people's business as much as they could be.
There is a tendency on the part of some officials in some counties to look the other way while skulduggery goes on, and there is the tendency on the part of some people in some countries to lend themselves, no, hire themselves out, to others that will do their people in.
And one poor person asks: Exactly when does Haliburton plan to tell the government, and so, the people of Trinidad and Tobago what it is exploding in Erin, and the health hazards if any of this substance? including the shattering noise?
Once, when Royal Dutch Shell was accused of poisoning the water of the people in the Ogoni region of the Nigerian Delta, through poor environmental practices; the question was raised at Shell's AGM in London about it. The clever GM replied, and assured shareholders, that Shell was living up to the environmental standards in effect in the Niger Delta. The people had put these in place long time ago. How clever! The people of that area routinely disposed of their waste into the rivers and lakes of the region, and so Shell did too, with all the toxic run-off of the oil industry. For protesting this, the Nigerian poet Ken Sara Wiwa was executed by his government, to continue protecting the pollution of the waterways of the Delta.
This of course will never happen in Trinidad. Questions may never be raised, no one will be executed, but they may die slowly and painfully of some unknown illness, caused by residues of unknown substances.
And for Haliburton, it will be another profitable year. They make drilling equipment that oil companies need to get the oil out of the soil, and from under the ocean.
But what about that, is in need of more than one explosion? I think it is in need of at least one explanation. The government, the EMA, the OWTU should ask for it immediately.
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