Judge: "Isla too late with creative solutions"

On the last session-day of a dragging civil case that lasted year-and-a-half, the Isla suddenly comes with creative solutions for the future; solutions that may reduce the sulphur-dioxide-, and soot emission. Judge Rik van Unen was clearly dissatisfied that the Isla has not come up with this earlier and that the parties self have not tried to come with a solution.

On the last session-day of a dragging civil case that lasted year-and-a-half, the Isla suddenly comes with creative solutions for the future; solutions that may reduce the sulphur-dioxide-, and soot emission. Judge Rik van Unen was clearly dissatisfied that the Isla has not come up with this earlier and that the parties self have not tried to come with a solution.

This time and contrary to former sessions, the Isla has not threatened with having to close the refinery if they have to comply with the standards. The Isla-lawyers have even indicated what the economic consequence is that may make continuation not profitable. The parties were heard for the last time yesterday in the lawsuit, in which the Humanitarian Care foundation, on behalf of 24 residents under the smoke and the Smoc demand that the refinery operates in conformity with the licence under the Nuisance Act and stop the violations for once and forever.

The judge has decided that the StAB has to bring in a meteo-expert that must give an explanation on which meteo-data to maintain: that of the Isla or that of the Environmental Service that were also used by StAB as basis for the calculations of the air quality and to determine the measures that the Isla must take to comply with the norms.

The meteo-data that the Isla uses assumes a reduction of 40 percent, while StAB assumes 60. The own calculations save the Isla a minimum of 100 million dollars per year in measures and makes an investment of more than 80 million dollars redundant.

The judge says that the difference is too big for him to give verdict without an explanation. StAB has guaranteed that once she has the correct meteo-data, making the final calculation can take about hour-and-a-half. The Judge doesn’t think it necessary as yet to hear the parties again afterwards and plans to give verdict no later than August 11.

That date came as an unpleasant surprise for the Isla. The lawyer that was flown in from Rotterdam thought that he could present a final approach plan of the refinery on August 31. The health, safety & environment manager Karel van Haaren tried on behalf of the Isla to bring forward that there are good possibilities for reducing the emission of sulphur-dioxide and soot with joint plans and investments with the BOO and Aqualectra, but the judge was of the opinion that Van Haaren was already too late in this stadium.

The Isla indicated in former sessions that she would have to close the refinery if she is forced to meet the norms of the licence under the Nuisance Act. A specific question of the judge whether the refinery still thinks the same, is now not answered. The lawyer answered evasively ‘not having been in Curacao’ (was in headquarters of PdVSA, red) and that these are top decisions that ought to be taken on another level. But he suggested that it would not have reached this point if the acute investments would not be recovered before the lease contract expires in 2019 and if the investments exceed the annual profit.

SNIFFER PEOPLE
The Isla-lawyer told the judge that what people smell is not the sulphur-dioxide, because that can only be smelled at concentrations between the 800 and 8000 micrograms per cubic meter, while the permit norm is 80.

Lawyer Sandra in ‘t Veld emphasized on behalf of the plaintiffs that the StAB-experts had asked whether the stench is smelled between the tenfold and hundredfold exceeding of the norm, and indicated that the Isla exceeds the 800 micrograms per cubic meter on a regular basis. Not only the population has smelled the stench, but also expert sniffer people of Dienst Centraal Milieubeheer Rijnmond that investigated this in 1994, described it.

The StAB then described all sorts of stenches and what causes them. StAB says that the stench consists of gasses that escape from tanks, including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAK’s), which are noxious.
(Source: National Newspaper Amigoe)

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