What is your opinion on OIL Refinery?

Here we sit in stunned silence

We had occasion to drive through Jimmit today, and traffic was being diverted by PetroCaribe signs. Can it be that construction of infrastructure for the benighted Chavez Oil Refinery has begun? We stopped and talked to some locals who told us the refinery's piping and tank farm are under construction. We have since heard that this construction is not the refinery, but is "just another tank farm". Either way, there are serious ecology risks to be considered.

My husband and I are stunned by the refinery situation here. It has made us question our decision to retire to Dominica. You see, my spouse is a Chemist, and spent a lot of time in refineries in the later years of his career. His job was to design and install process control systems to help decrease the massive pollution produced by refineries. This in response to EPA standards. Companies do not voluntarily put in expensive control systems which cut into their profits. And even if they do, these systems decrease pollution but do not eliminate it.

He will be the first to tell you there is no such thing as a pollution free refinery. This from a guy who was trying to clean them up! I wonder what kind of process control will be done here. My husband has also pointed out that very few jobs will be created by a refinery, compared to the jobs lost through the effects of pollution. I suspect the jobs gained may rival the jobs which went to Dominicans when the Chinese Stadium was built.

The tank farm under construction.

Dominica's water, soil, and air will be polluted. There is no question. There will inevitably be spills which will harm the reefs, fish, and probably drive our beloved resident whales from our shores. Fishing will be impacted. Jobs will be lost. I am already hearing from several readers that they are abandoning plans to visit or move to Dominica because of this ill conceived decision. Tourism will suffer, no matter what the official voices of tourism say. I am already hearing the response from eco tourists.

Once the damage is done, it cannot be repaired.

I am also aghast that such a decision is being entertained without formal public forums, debates, and a national referendum after the public are educated. I hear sound bites on radio and TV, but before making such a deal with the devil, shouldn't an in depth educational process and vote take place? I have always felt Dominica to be the most democratic of countries, but the way this is being done has caused me to question.

Here are some question we would like to have answered:

  1. Who will own and operate the refinery?
  2. Who will own the crude oil processed?
  3. What is the expected output of the refinery in barrels per day?
  4. How will Dominica receive income?
  5. What will be done with the excess raw sulfur?
  6. How will Dominica dispose of Bunker Oil, a world wide problem?
  7. How many Dominicans will actually be employed in high wage jobs? Will Dominicans be used as porters and sweepers while the good jobs go to others?
  8. Who gets the profits from the sale of the refined products?
  9. Where will the refined products be distributed, here or elsewhere?
  10. Who will clean up and pay for environmental spills?
  11. Who will pay for loss of property values and health costs for those living near the refinery?
  12. What type of environmental monitoring will be ongoing?
  13. How will the hazardous wastes containing such things as mercury, arsenic, cadmium, and carcinogens be disposed of?
  14. Who will pay for and maintain an emergency response team 24/7/365 to be available for refinery fires and other industrial emergencies?
  15. A refinery uses a large amount of electrical power. Where will the electrical power come from on an island that currently has load sharing during peak periods?

I know Dominica is tired of poverty, lack of jobs, and a depressed economy. But inviting environmental destruction to our shores will not only fail to fix what currently ails this island, but it will create more problems, and the loss of eco tourism. Here are just three of the comments I have received from readers, so believe me this will impact tourism. Those who say otherwise have their heads buried in crude oil.

"Thanks for your comments against the refinery. Pass along the message: A refinery is a good enough reason to forget the nature island and not to even visit it. All refineries leak oil into the ground and into the water. Refineries create hazardous waste. (Just what part of this is P.M. Roosevelt Scarry not understanding?)"

So interesting about the refinery, what are they thinking????"

"I wanted to comment on your previous post about the oil refinery proposal in Dominica, but I was lost for words. I double checked to make sure that I hadn't missed 3 months of the year, but, no, it is not April Fool's Day, so what on earth is going on? I take it there is no money in solar or wind power and what a good idea to locate a refinery on an island known for its' eco tourism, oh and in the hurricane belt . I rarely get angry but this makes me feel desperate. What to do? Thanks for opening my eyes."

livingdominica: as new immigrants to Dominica, we know very little about politics here. We have no affiliations with political parties. But we love it here and want to see the Nature Isle preserved!

Written and photos by: livingdominica.blogspot.com

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