2022News

Environmental lawyers request removal of power barge in Ozama River

The Institute of Lawyers for the Protection of the Environment (Insaproma) has filed a request before the Attorney General for the Defense of the Environment Francisco Contreras calling for the conclusion of the investigations into the claims that two Seaboard Transcontinental barges are violating Environment Law 64-00. The Seaboard power barges are located in the Ozama River and Insaproma says the contamination of the plants is “very visible and evident.”

“We understand that the country needs sources of electricity generation. We are not saying that the plants are good or bad, it is just that the location is not technically, legally or environmentally appropriate,” stresses the organization.

Insaproma says the barges are polluting and causing damage to the people’s health. The organization says that one of them is highly polluting because the boilers are cooled with water from the Ozama River, which distorts the temperature of the water and obviously affects the entire coastal-marine system.

Insaproma states the fumes from the barge affect those who live or visit the whereabouts of the Colonial City and affects the people’s health, said Euren Cuevas, executive director of Insaproma.

Insaproma says that the concluding of the investigative process is an obligation of the national authorities to solve this issue that they define as an environmental aberration that generates so much pollution in the area.

He specified that the plant was originally installed in the Ozama River for the emergency situation caused by Hurricane George in 1998. That was before Environment Law 64-00 had been enacted in 2000. Cuevas said if the law had existed back then, it is impossible that the plant would have been installed because it is not environmentally sustainable.

Cuevas says that in 2017, then Minister of the Environment Francisco Domínguez Brito denied license renewal to Seaboard and granted a deadline to remove the only barge it had, the Estrella de Mar II.

“The legal basis for the complaint that Insaproma filed against Seaboard and against the former Minister of the Environment, Angel Estevez, is for violation of environmental regulations. It turns out that what Francisco Dominguez Brito had stopped in 2017, then Angel Estevez reinstated in 2020, as he did with other environmental licenses. Insaproma say Estevez renewed the Seaboard license and also expanded the generation framework to be installed in the Ozama River. This is a legal and environmental aberration, ” said the specialist.

Euren Cuevas said that to legally install the new Estrella del Mar III plant, an environmental impact study was necessary. He said “it is impossible that an environmental impact study would even be received by the Ministry of the Environment to be installed at the mouth of this river which is the Ozama, and in the Colonial City which is a tourist area.”

He said the chimneys of the plants contaminate all the houses in the nearby neighborhoods. Furthermore, he said that Fuel Oil No. 6 used by the plants is the most contaminating in the world and goes to the Ozama River. The thermal waste, the water that cools the boilers, ends up in the waters of this tributary.

The Instituto de Abogados para la Protección del Medioambiente (Insaproma) is a non-profit institution founded in 2001. Its mission is to contribute to preserving and protecting the environment and natural resources, protecting human rights, environmental health, consumer rights, and promoting environmental governance. It carries out citizen awareness programs and projects aimed at advocating for the implementation of national and international standards.

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22 June 2022