Kamla asks the EMA whether a Certificate of Environmental Clearance was granted for Closure of Petrotrin
Leader of the Opposition Kamla Persad-Bissessar, SC, MP has written to the Chairman of the Environmental Management Authority seeking clarification on whether Petrotrin applied for and received a Certificate of Environmental Clearance from the Authority regarding the closure of the refinery, the decommissioning of the refinery or any associated works.
In a letter dated 2nd October, 2018, the Opposition Leader said, “I write to you in my in my dual capacity of being a citizen and a Member of Parliament. My communication is written to you in the public interest of upholding the law and protecting our most valuable resource, the environment.”
Mrs. Persad-Bissessar noted that Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley and Energy Minister Franklin Khan’s public statements have confirmed the Government’s decision to close the refinery at Point-a-Pierre.
The Opposition Leader stated that by virtue of the conjoint effect of section 35 of the Environmental Management Act Chapter 35:05 and the regulations made thereunder, more particularly the Certificate of Environmental Clearance (Designated Activities) Order, made under section 35 of the Act it is clear that no action could lawfully be taken to decommission the Point-a-Pierre refinery without the obtaining of a certificate of Environmental Clearance.
She cited Section 35 of the Act which states,
No person shall proceed with any activity which the Minister has designated as requiring a certificate unless such person applies for and obtains a Certificate from the Authority.
By virtue of Certificate of Environmental Clearance (Designated Activities) Order and more particularly activity 28 which states,
Establishment of infrastructure for crude oil refining
The establishment, modification, expansion,decommissioning or abandonment (inclusive of associated works) of crude oil refinery.
The Opposition Leader noted, “It is clear that no action could be taken by the Petroleum Company of Trinidad and Tobago Limited towards the closure of the refinery, the decommissioning of the refinery or any associated works without the grant of a Certificate of Environmental Clearance from the Authority.”
“The closure of the Point-a-Pierre Refinery without satisfying the legal requirements of the Environmental Management Act can have catastrophic and cataclysmic effects on the environment that will last well into the future and cause irreparable loss and damage to our most valuable resource,” Mrs. Persad-Bissessar stated. “I, as every other citizen of our country have a duty that is grounded in the preamble of our Constitution to uphold the law and preserve the rule of law. That duty is enhanced in cases where what is at risk is the environment.”
In those circumstances, the Opposition Leader requested, as a matter of urgency, that the EMA provide the following information:
(i) The date upon which the Petroleum Company of Trinidad and Tobago applied for a certificate of Environmental clearance for permission to undertake works for the closure and/or decommissioning of the Point-a-Pierre refinery.
(ii) The date upon which this application was considered by the Authority.
(iii) Whether a certificate of Environmental Clearance was granted and if so the date upon which the certificate granted.
The Opposition Leader said, “As you will no doubt understand this is a matter of great and general public importance that affects every citizen of our country and in those circumstances, I would be grateful for a reply within the next 24 hours.”