Environmental activists are preparing to file an injunction to prevent clearance of 29 acres of land for establishment of a US$430 million Caribbean Salt (CariSal) plant at Couva. This looms as scheduled clearance works at the Savonetta Estate failed to get off the ground yesterday closely monitored by activists.
While fishermen and villagers kept up their vigilance, University of the West Indies lecturer, Wayne Kublalsingh met with attorneys. During a brief interview, Kublalsingh said they were also awaiting a meeting with Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar to discuss the negative impacts of a chemical plant being so close to a residential settlement.
Kublalsingh said activists will pursue legal action against the State should the project continue. “So far they have not gone to the site but we are monitoring the situation. We are also doing background information in preparation for a legal battle,” Kublalsingh said, noting they were yet to receive a response from Persad-Bissessar. He noted that the Certificate of Environmental Clearance, issued to CariSal in March 2009, would expire within the next few days. The project, inclusive of administrative buildings, storage, cooling towers, a chlor-alkali plant and calcium chloride plant, a power station and a water retention pond, is planned to occupy a 29.1 acre parcel of land located east of the Point Lisas Industrial Estate.
According to a report from the Point Lisas East Community Group, the CariSal facility proposes to produce 120,000 metric tonnes of caustic soda and sodium hydroxide per year and 141,000 metric tonnes of calcium chloride per year, as well as hydrochloric acid and bleach. Kublalsingh explained that over 170,400 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide would be released into the atmosphere, because of the processes at the proposed plant. He noted that spillage and leakage into the Point Lisas wetlands would be difficult to mitigate and it is not clear what economic benefits the country would enjoy as the plant would remain 100 per cent United-States owned. President of the Claxton Bay Fishing Association, Krishna Boodram, said the Savonetta area is already heavily polluted and scores of residents suffer with cancers, bronchial disorders and tumours. CariSal officials during a consultation with residents said they would retain members of the Chlorine Institute to monitor and address safety concerns.