Site Smelter in Chaguaramas
Posted: Sunday, November 12, 2006
By Stephen Kangal
PM Manning, Minister Rowley and Alcoa have assured the Chatham villagers that the proposed third generation, state -of-the-art aluminum smelter earmarked for construction in the ecologically fragile and sensitive S.W. Peninsula will pose no serious threat to the human, physical and ambient environment. Accordingly I wish to suggest that having regard to this undertaking Chaguaramas would appear to be a superior site to Chatham as the preferred location for the Alcoa plant.
You see sisters and brothers Alcoa has been operating for decades a bauxite/alumina sheltered, deep water harbour port at the Tembladora (Carenage) Transfer Station. Here Surinamese bauxite is imported using large river boats and trans-shipped to the Alcoa plants in Arkansas located on the Mississippi via large ocean liners. Jamaican/Surinamese bauxite/alumina can continue to be received at this port as well as at the now abandoned ALCAN alumina port situated nearby in serene and tranquil Chaguaramas. The Chaguaramas site is more in accord with the Australian "Smelter in the Park" featured in the Alcoa TV ads. And Imbert is set to build a four- lane- connecting highway from POS to connect Chaguaramas as well as the North-South water taxi system and possibly the light Rapid Rail System link to the rest of mainland Trinidad.
Accordingly a modern maritime port infrastructure is already in place at Tembladora. Building a new port to serve Chatham and running new gas lines will dislocate the marine life and upset wave and tide dynamics as the Crown Point extension did in Tobago at Pigeon Point and Buccoo Reef. The existing Tembladora bauxite/alumina port facility can be easily expanded to accommodate the increased volume of imports and even the CKD Alcoa plant, Chinese workers and construction materials etc can be imported via this existing Alcoa port for the construction of the aluminum complex.
The raw materials received including the alumina can be piped aerially or by conveyors to the plant to be located a short distance away in the virgin and unspoilt Tucker Valley/Golf Course area. Rowley already has his eyes on Guave Road where HDC houses can be built to accommodate the Chinese construction workers and subsequently the Caricom voter padders without the high public visibility. Alcoa will easily testify that the Chag plant will pose no threat to the Chaguaramas aquifers nor to the non-existent residents. The EMA can be politically manipulated to issue the CEC as they will be pressurised to do with respect to the Chatham location. The downstream industries can be located here also and the area renamed Aluminium Valley. The gas for electricity generation can be tapped from submarine line connecting the off-shore BG Tobago marine fields. Build the electricity plant on the scenic slopes of Tucker Valley since it will not affect the abundant natural life and lush vegetation that clothe the slopes.
From a locational viewpoint the Chaguaramas site will pose no threat to Orinoco Venezuela as it will do if the smelter is built at Chaham that is ten miles from the Spanish Main. Ships can use the Bocas passage to import alumina and export aluminum ingots and spent pot lining. However I am not sure that marine-tourisn dependent neighbours of Grenada, St.Vincent and Barbados will allow the transport of toxic and hazardous pot lining through their Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ). This substance will pose a real and potential threat to the preservation of their marine environment in case of maritime accidents and therefore of the economic survival of these small island developing economies.
T&T has no high seas access corridor nor a legal continental shelf. T&T was zone-locked by the Judgment of the Arbitral Tribunal/Barbados earlier this year. The marine transportation of the hazardous products of our growing chemical -based, export-oriented industrial thrust such as Direct Reduced Iron, fertilisers, LNG and soon pot lining now stands mendicant to Barbados and Venezuela for a unrestricted maritime exit to the Atlantic.
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