Dec 25 2006

Christmas Victory for Trinidadian anti-smelter movement

In his Christmas year-end review, Trinidadian Prime Minister Patrick Manning announced that he is to scrap his plans to build an Alcoa Aluminium smelter by the towns of Chatam and Cap de Ville, where local residents have fiercely campaigned against the government’s smelter plan.

Christmas Victory for Trinidadian anti-smelter movement 



He announced that instead he would build the gas powered Aloca smelter off the shore of the fishing village of Otaheite, near La Brea, further north up the Cedros Peninsula coastal line. Over one-houndred families in Otaheite depend on fish and shrimp catches for their livelihoods, and are devastated by the Christmas news to pollute the tropical Oropouche Lagoon. The process of Aluminium smelting releases toxins that will poison local sea life, as well as the thirty types of birds that reside in this ecosystem.

The Trinidad Express reports that fishermen in Otaheite harbour threatened to use violence against any attempt to evict them. Other locals stated that that they would file legal action against any attempts to industrialise their village.(1)

Judy McLean, a member of the residents’ association who attended two meetings last year with a State representative trying to sell the Otaheite Offshore Estate idea commented:

“No one was pleased when we heard this. We are all against it,” She said Manning’s announcement on Christmas Eve “shows he doesn’t give a damn about the spirit of Christmas… To lay this on people at this time of the year is not the Christian thing to do. And he calls himself a born-again,”

Resisdents in Chatam and Cap de Ville are celebrating today. This is a major victory for local residents and the global anti-smelter movement – after all the battle to save Chatam has been won.

Vice-president of the Cap De Ville/Chatham Environmental Protection Group, Ricky Undheim, said to the Trinidad Express, “This is one of the happiest days of my life. But we are disappointed that he would continue aluminium plants in La Brea and Otaheite. So we will continue the struggle.”

David Miller, who is involved with an Iceland focused anti-smelter campaign called Saving Iceland who recently organised a joint “funeral march” in London for Trinidad (2) and Iceland commented:

“From Otaheite and La Brea in Trinidad, to Kashipur in India, to Húsavik, Þjórsárver and the many other aluminium projects planned for Iceland, the aluminium industry is intent on destroying local habitats and ecosystems in spite of local resistance, just to make a buck. There is a fast growing peoples movement that is not prepared to stand by and let this happen. We shall be converging in Iceland on the 6th of July 2007.


(2) 27/10/2006, /?p=585

2 Responses to “Christmas Victory for Trinidadian anti-smelter movement”

  1. Anonymous says:

    The now outspoken anti heavy industry Icelandic journalist, Ómar Ragnarsson, who was a major actor in creating a debate about Iceland’s heavy industry policy, had this to say about this item:

    “Good Christmas news are coming from Trinidad, – a battle has at last
    been won, but unfortunately not the war.
    In Iceland the battle of Eyjabakkar was won six years ago but the
    government reverted to a much greater plan with even greater
    irreversible negative environmental impact and harnessed two main rivers instead of one. [The Jökulsá í Fljótsdal AND The Jökulsá á Dal – Where the great wetlands of Eyjabakkar which everyone thought had been saved in 1999 are today part of the Jökulsá í Fljótsdal dams – Editor]

    “Everybody must learn from this. We can´t rest on our laurels, we have to carry on the fight for invaluable treasures of nature.

    “Best wishes to you all in the future.
    Merry Christmas and happy new year.

    Ómar. ”

    Ómar has flown hundreds (or thousands?) of people around the Kárahnjukar region in his light airplane and has photographed the flooding of the region from a small boat on the rising reservoir. His photos can be seen here:

  2. Anonymous says:

    Iceland is one of the few countries left in the world with unspoiled and the most beautiful nature.

    Putting down aluminum factories in Iceland will not only ruin it’s reputation as the one of the few and clean places to go and enjoy but also it will contribute to more pollution both in air, water and ocean around Iceland.

    Income and jobs based on tourism alone would supersede any economical benefits from ALCOA plans.

    Icelanders should indict those responsible for deceiving the nation with false information about the consequences. Icelanders have the rights to protect themselves from corrupt politicians and industrialists.

    Let us all support Omar Ragnarsson in his NOBLE cause in protecting the countries most valuable assets. The Land of Ice and Fire.

    All my family and kids support Omar Ragnarsson in his quest for saving the nature.

    Thor Daniel Hjaltason
    Laura Hjaltason
    Kolbeinn Thorgeirsson
    Tomas Thorgeirsson
    Thorunn Thorgeirsdottir
    Thorina Gabriella Hjaltason
    Thorunn Juliusdottir
    Hjalti Thorgeirsson