Sep 15 2005

Alcoa Facing Growing Protests Over Proposed Trinidad Smelter


From NoSmelterTNT
5 September 2005

US Aluminum Giant Alcoa is facing massive criticism over a proposed 340,000 metric ton smelter plant in Cap De Ville in the Caribbean Island of Trinidad. The country of Trinidad is one of the most densely populated places on earth with 249 persons per sq. kilometer and also already ranks very high in pollution levels due to ongoing industrialization. According to world bank statistics, Trinidad is #5 in the world when it comes to Carbon Dioxide Pollution.

The 2005 Yale/Columbia Environmental Sustainability Index (ESI) showed Trinidad and Tobago as having the worst percentage of negative land impacts of 146 countries, yet Trinidad’s government is continuing on a path toward industrialization of what was once a scenic Caribbean Island.

The proposed smelter plant, one of the largest in the world is scheduled to be located within a mile or less of the population center of Cap-de-Ville/Point Fortin in the Cedros Peninsula. The residents of the until now sleepy and peaceful peninsula are uniting and organizing massive protests on a regional and international level. While similar protests in Chile, Brazil and Vietnam successfully kept proposed Aluminum smelter plants out of their countries, the Trinidad government is determined to let Alcoa go ahead with their project at all cost.

The citizens group Cedros Peninsula United managed to obtain a copy of Alcoa’s application of Environmental Clearance which was jointly signed by Alcoa and the government’s Energy Corporation which Alcoa tried to keep secret and found it full of omissions, inaccuracies and outright false statements.

“We are very worried about a company that promises us an ‘environmentally friendly’ smelter, yet is already lying about things like waste and pollution before the smelter is even built. How can we trust them,” warns the citizens group. The local press totally ignored the findings in Alcoa’s environmental clearance application but had no problem accepting three page ads by Alcoa promoting their smelter project. Money rules in Trinidad.

Alcoa’s record in Trinidad is already spotty. They have a trans-shipment facility in the northern part of the Island in Carenage and have been under fire from citizens there for many years. A 1989 air-monitoring report by Cariri, commissioned by a Carenage citizens group, showed Alcoa exceeded US emissions standards for residential areas at three monitoring sites in Carenage on each of the five days of monitoring.

The residents of the Cedros Peninsula suffering from sleepless night these days, their livelyhood from fishing and agriculture and their health and environment threatened by Aluminum Giant Alcoa.

One of the largest aluminum smelters in the world in one of the smallest countries in the World. It’s a recipe for disaster and the citizens of Trinidad are fighting a serious battle, not just with Alcoa but their own government that supports and sponsors Alcoas plans. The citizens of the tiny Cedros Peninsula are hoping that once the facts of this project are made known to the world community, that Alcoa may be swayed to look elsewhere to build their smelter.