Controversy surrounds Estrella Mar III power barge set to operate in Ozama River

Reports are that the Estrella del Mar III floating power plant’s arrival is imminent. It is described as a technologically advanced floating energy barge. Seaboard Marine/Transcontinental Capital says that the floating SCC-800 2 × 1 power plant will bring a green and clean electric power solution to benefit more people in the Dominican Republic. The new barge was built in Singapore and has capacity to generate 145 megawatts.

The plant will run on natural gas. Siemens, the power barge builder, is delivering its SIESTART hybrid solution for the floating power plant, which is a fusion of a combined cycle (gas turbine) power plant and a battery energy storage system. The power plant also incorporates the SCC-800 2 × 1 SeaFloat concept with two Siemens SGT-800 gas turbines and a SST-600 steam turbine due to the limitations in free land and its previous experience with electric barges. The concept allows the company to increase the size of its plant compared to a terrestrial power plant.

All sounds good, but the problem is that the barge would be located on the banks of the Ozama River in Santo Domingo. Environmentalist Luis Carvajal says that is the wrong place as it presents several risks to human health and the environment. He was interviewed for the La Cuestion radio talk show on Super7FM. It also contradicts government and private sector efforts to recover the full potential of the river that cuts Santo Domingo in two and borders the Colonial City, a global national heritage site.

Carvajal, who is environmental director at the state UASD university, says that when the first Seaboard Marine barge was installed in the Ozama River in 1989, there was an emergency situation. He also says at the time the Environmental Law 64-00 had not yet been passed. The law was passed in 2000. He recalls at the time there was a serious electricity crisis and the company was able to negotiate a contract with favorable shadow payment clauses that have resulted in perjury of the collectivity.

For years, environmentalists have warned that the plant should be removed from the site. Carvajal explained that in 2017, when Francisco Domínguez Brito was minister of Environment, he ordered the removal on grounds of the thermal and waste product contamination to the river waters, and the smoke that affected the area. He said since the 1990s there have been requests to relocate the power barge. He attributes to the company’s negotiating capacity their remaining at the site.

Carvajal says that the plant is in violation of Environmental Law 64-00 and the plans for the development of the areas adjacent to the river, including the Colonial City, wetlands and the area neighborhoods.

New Minister of Environment Orlando Jorge Mera has said he is studying what the past government had agreed to with the company. Jorge Mera has not yet issued his opinion on the matter.

Meanwhile, Seaboard announces they will be installing the Estrella del Mar III in a month. Carvajal says the power plant does not have an environmental authorization.

In a TV report on CDN, Channel 37, journalist Addis Burgos for her Desclasificado show, looks into the issues surrounding the controversial power plant.

Follow the story:
Desclasificado Part I
Desclasificado Part II
La Cuestion

Estrella de Mar III

6 April 2021