SEI a helping hand for environmental requirements Smoc

The dragging lawsuit, in which the foundation Clean Environment in Curacao (Smoc) is trying to force the government to make the Isla-refinery comply with the licence under the Nuisance Act, continues tomorrow. Question is whether the case is out of date now that the BC has recently signed the Social Economic Initiative (SEI), in which she commits herself to ‘force or bring’ the Isla to comply with the standards.

The BC had always sided with the Isla in the past. The Isla indicated that if they are forced to comply with the permit requirements, they will have to close the refinery.

Smoc that may consider the SEI as a helping hand, has instituted legal proceedings almost three years ago to force the BC to assertion. Reason for this is the constant violation of the permit, the exceeding of norms and accompanied damage to the health. Until now, the BC refuses to take actions against the violation, with the economic argumentation of the Isla that this would mean the closing of the refinery as most important reason. According to the verdict of the judge in July 2006, the BC has come to this decision after a careless consideration of interests, whereby the BC has not sufficiently investigated the nature and the seriousness of the breaching of the Isla and the method to put an end to this. The BC indicated without motivation that forcing the Isla to comply with the permit would lead to the closing of the refinery. The judge sentenced the BC to come with another decision within three months. They did this in October, but refused again to start maintaining. That’s when the Smoc decided to appeal this in December of 2006.

The judge decided in the appeal procedure to ask the StAB in The Hague for advice on the method to perform reliable measurements and from that draw conclusions on the Isla exceeding the air-quality norm. Based on date received from measurements and their own calculations, StAB confirms that the Isla is exceeding the annual average norm for sulphur dioxide with at least 60 percent. The judge will now pronounce verdict, after having heard the parties on Thursday.
The results of the experts’ advise of the StAB is little shocking news for the average citizen that reads the paper, drives around the Schottegat in the car, has a view of the refinery, or visits the hardware store in Marchena so now and then, but for the inhabitants, schools, and elderly homes under the smoke of the refinery, they are everyday reality. That Isla and government are still saying after three years that the refinery cannot comply with the norms because it would cost too much money and would lead to ‘economic disaster’, is not a surprise.
The BC has even gone so far recently assuring the petroleum union PWFC that the Isla won’t close.

The harsh language in the signed SEI makes it not possible for the island government to neglect the upholding at the end of this year; at least not without showing the Netherlands that she is the unreliable partner that does sign and then tries everything possible to break whatever was signed, and with that give those in favour of the Netherlands interfering in the Isla, stronger arguments. Not complying with the upholding demand will have consequences for the promised debt restructuring, says State Secretary Ank Bijleveld-Schouten (Kingdom Relations, CDA) in the Lower House.(Source: Amigoe)

June 18, 2008

BC and Isla: Environmental standards do not apply to the refinery

According to the Governing Body and the Isla, the standards for sulphur dioxide do not imply that the Isla must actually comply with these. It is a target norm, and when the parties drew up the nuisance act they already knew that it is not feasible.
We must work up to it, they said. The norm is based on an agreement that aims at ‘continue making the exploitation of the refinery possible, while taking the circumstances, like the environment’ into consideration. Yesterday’s appeal case of the Foundation Clean Environment in Curacao (Smoc), in which the BC and the Isla are demanded to comply with the permit, the BC and the Isla brought up that the refinery is not obliged to stay within the norms for sulphur dioxide and the BC also does not need to take actions. BC-lawyer Angelique Marugg is of the opinion that in the so-called Attachment F is not clearly laid down that the Isla must comply with the SO2-norm for air quality.

Lawyer Henk Breeman that was flown in from Rotterdam, brought up on behalf of the refinery that in the agreement is contractually established that at the time the contract was made, the Isla and her operational management were already complying with the standards as laid down in Attachment F. If Isla had to comply with the standards, the permit would have been objected implicitly, because the emission activities inquired by Isla already implied an exceeding of the norms. Breeman says that it is obvious that Attachment F does not put the refinery under the obligation to run in such way that the air quality remains under the norms that are laid down in that attachment. If this is indeed the case, then the problem is that the presence of sulphur dioxide is caused by more sources at the same time, like the BOO-plant, the traffic, pulverizers, the shipping, and background concentrations, said Breeman

A refinery that is 90 years old can not be held to the ‘best practical technology’ afterwards, and forced to comply with this at the moment the permit was granted, said Breeman. Smoc’s reaction on this was that each installation that has undergone an upgrading, counts as new installation, and this applies to the biggest part of the Isla after modifications performed in conformity with Attachment F. Isla and BC brought unanimously up that the permit mentions ‘immission norms’ that determine how much polluted substances may be found in the open air. Measuring the immission does not show which emissions have led to the measured immission value. It’s not clear how much Isla is contributing to this. Emission norms must be maintained, thus after ‘measurements at the pipe’.

The Environmental Services could not carry out measurements, because there was no measuring equipment. According to Marrugg, the equipment that the Environmental Service has borrowed from Refineria di Kòrsou (RdK) was in the meantime sent twice to Belgium for reparation and still didn’t work. A Belgian expert was recently on the island and has repaired the equipment. The measuring station was placed near Marchena Hardware two weeks ago. Smoc-lawyer Sandra in ’t Veld says that it can be that the Environmental Service did not have a measuring equipment of her own, but have always accepted the measurements carried out by the Isla, and had no reason not to maintain these data.

Judge Joop Drop wanted to hear from the BC what is being meant by the formulation in the Social Economic Initiative (SEI) indicating that the Isla is constantly exceeding the norms. The SEI is an unfortunate way of putting it, answered the BC-lawyers. Whether they mean the immission- or the emission norms, is not clear. Drop suggested maintaining what’s in the SEI; the Netherlands is also going to give money to measure the air quality and the Isla must comply with the permit. “If you can do the measuring self, then you can also maintain the norms”, is the evasive answer of Marrug. “But what are you going to measure?” asked the judge, but she didn’t receive an answer.

(Source: Amigoe)

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