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TCL ponders treating T&T’s waste

...addressing pollution aggressively
Published: 
Sunday, March 19, 2017
TCL's Rajeev Chadee Production Manager ,left, and General Manager Jinda Maharaj explain the operations of TCL plant to Minister of Trade and Industry Paula Gopee-Scoon during a tour of the facility yesterday .

Two months after Mexican cement giant Cemex succeeded in its bid to take over Trinidad Cement Ltd (TCL), managing director Jose Luis Seijo has assured that the company will be dealing aggressively with environmental pollution.

TCL, which has long been blamed for extensive air pollution, continues to operate its plant at Claxton Bay where dust barrier trees on the periphery of the plant are caked in grey material.

During a tour of the facility last week, Trade Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon enquired whether the company will be addressing health, safety and environmental (HSE) concerns.

Seijo, in an interview said roughly 15 to 20 per cent of all TCL’s capital expenditure goes towards HSE.

“That is a big amount because usually it is lower than that. We have put a lot of emphasis on this but we are going to push for international standards in all our plants,” Seijo said, referring to TCL facilities in Jamaica and Barbados, as well as at Claxton Bay in south Trinidad. He added that the company will purchase new systems to guard against pollution.

“We will be fixing and doing upgrades on all our filters. We will change the technology for electric filters. These measures will be implemented not only at Claxton Bay but all across the group so that we can have the highest standards,” Seijo said.

He also said that TCL had the capacity to deal with some of the bulk waste generated in T&T. Saying he was disappointed that T&T did not recycle waste, Seijo said, “We have a lot of bulk waste and use of the TCL incinerators for bulk waste is a big opportunity for this country.”

He added: “I think we as a country are not doing the right thing. We don’t recycle anything and I see huge opportunities for all of us to improve in this area. We have the equipment to do it and this technology is well established in other places.”

He noted that the first thing that should be done is separating waste.

“We can separate metal pieces, plastics and organic waste. Some of that we can easily repack and use some of that in our kilns. We are working on some of these initiatives and we are doing the same exercise in Jamaica,” Seijo said.

He also said that T&T had skilled technicians at the TCL plant but there was a problem with team work.

Meanwhile Gopee-Scoon said she was happy that the executives were working on improving environmental safety standards.

“It is a work in progress and we will be monitoring to ensure that standards are met. They are improving and they exemplified to us that they are working towards international best practice,” Gopee-Scoon said. She also praised TCL for expanding its business and overcoming financial issues which left the company almost bankrupt three years ago.

“It’s been years of difficulty and high debt, uncontrollable debt and this business would have been closed had it not been for the intervention of Cemex in 2015. They brought US$40 million and they reduced their debt. Their capital structure now is quite favourable. It is not perfect but they are in a much better place,” Gopee- Scoon said.

She also said TCL is expanding its exports and employed 400 employees directly and 1,000 employees indirectly.

In January, Cemex concluded a successful partial takeover bid for TCL, pushing its shareholding in the company from 39.5 per cent to over 70 per cent. T&T shareholders who accepted the offer received US$0.76 a share.