By Tarjei Leer-Salvesen
When NorWatch visited Trinidad, we spent a lot of time trying to get hold of a copy of the environmental impact assessment of Hydro Agri Trinidad's activity. However, the search for the document ended when HAT's health, environment and safety manager, Kawal Maraj, admitted that such an assessment had never been made. The company informs NorWatch that "some environmental aspects" have been mentioned in the study that was made by Norsk Hydro for internal use when they bought the plants. But this was no independent analyses, the study was not published, and it did not consider all relevant environmental aspects of the activity.
Two million tonnes of CO2
The most important raw material for ammonia production is natural gas. The production generates a lot of CO2 that is not part of the end product, and large quantities of this greenhouse gas are emitted into the atmosphere. In addition, HAT generates its own power from natural gas. The public electricity system is only used as back-up. Some CO2 is sold to a methanol factory locally, and some is sold to a company that delivers gas to breweries. Nevertheless, the total CO2 emissions of Hydro Agri Trinidad amount to more than two million tonnes every year. This means that the CO2 emissions of the ammonia production equal the emissions of the two gas power plants that the company Naturkraft plans to establish in Kårstø and Kollsnes in Norway.
The calculations of the Norwegian protest organisation against gas power plants, "Fellesaksjonen mot gasskraftverk", show that two million tonnes of CO2 equal the discharges of 600.000 cars. There are only 300.000 cars in Trinidad and Tobago. Thus, HAT emits twice as much CO2 as all the cars in Trinidad and Tobago.
Tore Jenssen, manager of health, environment and security of Hydro Agri, informs NorWatch that the NOx emissions from HAT are 727 tonnes every year. Big concentrations of NOx may lead to acid rain and health problems. The NOx discharges of HAT exceed the amount the gas power company Naturkraft has applied to the Norwegian Pollution Control Authority (SFT) to let out from each of its planned gas power plants in Kollsnes and Kårstø (662 tonnes per year). And the NOx emissions of HAT are five times higher than the amount SFT permitted Naturkraft to discharge (150 tonnes per year from each of the gas power plants).
In the area Point Lisa's Industrial Estate, where HAT's ammonia plants are located, there is also other gas related industry with high emissions of NOx. The local health and environmental effects of HAT's NOx emissions in Trinidad are unknown. This is a question the missing environmental impact assessment could have answered.
An independent environmental consultant, Ruairidh Mc Gaw, carried out two temperature measures of HAT's cooling water in 1999 on assignment of the environmental organisation Fishermen & Friends of the Sea. His analyses showed that the cooling water had a higher temperature than the company said it had when it was discharged into the sea. The manager of health, environment and security, Kawal Maraj, informed that the temperature is supposed to be between 40 degrees Celsius, or just below that. Mc Gaw's analyses showed temperatures of 45 degrees.
Mc Gaw said to NorWatch that he is uncertain of the ecological effects of the high temperature of the plant's cooling water. He points out the possibility of high algae growth, but he also emphasizes that some organisms will not survive temperatures this high over time. Mc Gaw accuses HAT of breaking the law in their handling of the cooling water.
When NorWatch visited HAT, the company's manager of health, environment and security, Kawal Maraj, pointed at the small patch of mangrove forest next to the plant that still has not been removed to give room to factories or harbour works. In his opinion, this mangrove forest proves that HAT's activity does not threaten the environment. He said that the big sea turtles lay their eggs in this forest, and that the turtles need a clean environment where they lay their eggs. Environmentalists and villagers NorWatch talked to shook their heads at his statement of the sea turtles. They pointed out that the turtles lay their eggs on the east coast of Trinidad, not on the west coast. In addition, they lay their eggs on beaches, not in the middle of the mangrove forest.
Norwatch Newsletter 7/00