Fri 5th Apr 2019


Open Letter to His Excellency The Governor General of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

2nd April 2019

Your Excellency,

Geothermal is a risk to our drinking water and agriculture

The proposed geothermal plant is a risk to our drinking water and agriculture. The environmental effects may be temporary or irreversible and may include changes to the landscape and land use, by gases emissions into the atmosphere, on surfaces and subsurface water, land subsidence and seismic activity.

A research paper about geothermal in Turkey outlines the possible environmental consequences.

Air and chemical pollution can be:
• Hydrogen Sulphide and its derivatives (H2S) are emitted, causing a bad smell and acid rain;
• Emitted carbon dioxide (CO2) and H2S are heavy gases and can linger, causing increased pollution for local people who live close to the geothermal plant;
• Radioactive element radon, toxic elements arsenic, mercury, ammonia, boron and other polluting heavy metals;
• Waste steam is normally sprayed over surrounding vegetation, while waste water is pumped into streams and river untreated, as treatment is considered too costly to be economically viable.

Dissolved minerals (e.g., boron, mercury and arsenic) contained in the liquid streams generated during the exploration, stimulation and production phases, may poison surface or groundwater and harm local vegetation.

Boron toxicity has a negative effect on the metabolic functions of plants. The boron toxicity can cause a reduced yield in plants, owing to the plant tissues death and reduced photosynthetic activity due to the high level of boron.

Fluids emerging from the geothermal area often contain high boron concentrations and cause environmental problems for irrigation waters in agricultural areas, where boron contaminates aquifers and soils.

Heavy metals are often found in water samples of drilled wells. They can contaminate fresh water sources or surface water. To a certain extent they enter our bodies by contaminated water used in vegetable cultivation, via animal food products, via drinking water and by the air.

Heavy metals are also dangerous for humans because they tend to bio-accumulate, i.e., increase in
concentration in human bodies over time. They damage the central nervous system and cause loss of memory, severe trembling, respiratory problems, birth defects, heart disorders and other health issues.

Energy security and food security in SVG is needed for us to have economic security and national security. Therefore, it is necessary for SVG to reject the high risk geothermal project and turn to safer, simpler and cheaper energy sources such as the renewable energy of solar and wind.

The SVG Parliament should pass legislation to (a) give the authority to build a further two hydro-electric power plants on the Colonarie river (b) mandate that VINLEC disclose every month the statistic related to the purchase of diesel for production of electricity, and (c) cut the price of electricity to twenty two cents per unit for private residential and domestic use, but retain the Fuel Surcharge tariff. This would shut out the need for the dangerous geothermal power plant in SVG.

The SVG Parliament should also pass legislation for zero tax and customs duty on all solar and wind equipment, so private households and businesses can import such equipment and generate electricity themselves. This would help Vincentians reduce their electricity bill and / or create a source of income.

Geothermal is an unnecessary risk to our drinking water and agriculture. The project should be abolished.

Yours faithfully

Warrant Officer Ivan O’Neal BSc (hons), MSc, MBA.
Leader of SVG Green Party

CC: The Hon Prime Minister of SVG
The Hon Leader of the Opposition of SVG
SVG Christian Council
SVG Chamber of Industry and Commerce

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