An opposition lawmaker says that notwithstanding the statements by the government that there is yet hope for the production of geothermal energy in St. Vincent, “the project is dead, absolutely dead”.
Daniel Cummings, member of parliament for West Kingstown, said on his New Democratic Party’s (NDP) radio programme on Tuesday, that were it left to “this rogue regime, that equipment would have remained in this country until after the election, because they don’t want the people of this country to realise that the project is dead, absolutely dead”.
Three wells were dug as part of the project.
And while they have produced the required temperature — 250 degrees Celsius, the level of permeability of the rocks needed to generate electricity is absent.
The government ordered the suspension of drilling on March 16 and the Icelandic firm which owns the drill recently began dismantling and are shipping it to Spain for their next project.
Ellsworth Dacon, the project director, said on NBC Radio on Sunday, that the government is exploring options for the stimulation of the wells, using other technologies.
Cummings, a water engineer, said that the NDP has been saying since March, that the project is dead.
“The evidence was there that the holes dug did not produce the desired result. There is no significant permeability and so, there is no ability to generate geothermal energy,” Cummings said, adding that the NDP had been saying this for a long time.
“You hear the head honcho said in response to our claims, ‘Oh no, we’re not finished. We’ve simply taken a part to Trinidad to sharpen and bring it back’, when everybody knows that is a total lie, an absolute untruth.
“None of the conditions required, the critical conditions required, have been met to generate geothermal energy at that site. It is the wrong site. It is the wrong place. It is the wrong side of the country.”
Cummings repeated his argument that the project should have been executed on the western slope of the La Soufriere Volcano, rather than the eastern side.
“And I go back to the scientific evidence. I go back to the previous studies; I go back to common sense. It is on the leeward side of the island that have the springs where there’s indication of fissures in the rock allowing heat to protrude to the surface and therefore, having the hot water springs, and that is more than common sense.
“I have been saying ad infinitum. This man who’s in charge of the country takes every decision based on politics — party politics.”
He said this is evidence in Georgetown, where the clinic, the smart hospital and the modern medical and diagnostic centre are located on one compound near to the red zone — a reference to the zoning of the country relative to the risk associated with the La Soufriere volcano.
“The Modern Medical Complex is a beautiful facility meant to serve St. Vincent and the Grenadines. It is part of a main hospital facility. Before you perform an operation, before during, and after an operation, there are certain critical tests that the doctor needs to do to determine how he or she must proceed,” Cummings said.
He said if the facility was very close to the main hospital for obvious reasons that the patient can be moved or a sample can be taken and the results had quickly and the doctors will be in a good position to know what to do.
“What you have is a folly now of the majority of patients’ at Milton Cato samples have to be taken or the patient has to be taken all the way to Georgetown for these kinds of tests and then travel all the way back to Kingstown.
“I mean it is just plain nonsense. It is not a district hospital; it is not a district clinic. It is part of your main facility and we have been trying to make that point to the population who now begin to appreciate it when they see that people for dialysis from wherever you come from, you also come from the Southern Grenadines, North Leeward or wherever, I come to Kingstown and travel all the way up to Georgetown twice a week for that kind of facility when it should have been in the main lower one-third of the island, near to your main hospital.”
Cummings said it is the same thing with the geothermal project.
“No matter what the technical people would have advised, Oh, you can’t go put that up in Patel territory,” Cummings said, referring to Member of Parliament for North Leeward, Roland “Patel” Matthews, an opposition lawmaker.
Cummings said the government maintained that the project be constructed in North Windward.
“And I go guarantee you, based on my own experience working with that man, a case in point the solid waste project, that is how this man who claims to be the Prime Minister of every square inch of this country operates; that is how he operates.
“I am certain that the best technical advice would have pointed to the project being done in the North Leeward side of the island. But the party political position is ‘what I say goes’, and I want it up in my territory, not in North Leeward and what we have is a colossal failure, an absolute disgrace, a waste of resources.
“Some people want to tell us that because we don’t have to pay back for the drilling that we haven’t lost anything, my God. I mean, are these people for real,” Cummings said.
Cummings said the biggest loss is “the setback, the loss of an opportunity to get energy, a more sustainable form of energy at a much lower cost.
“That is what was at stake. St. Vincent and the Grenadines is hamstrung by not having an electricity supply that is free of dependency on these fossil fuels.”
He said that electricity in St. Vincent and the Grenadines is so expensive that it makes it uncompetitive to have certain types of industry.
“A geothermal project, properly functioning, would have enabled us to have much cheaper electricity and a more sustainable basis. So, we have suffered a tremendous loss. And at any rate, that amount of money, properly invested could have been used to create so many jobs for our people. For so many jobs, so many opportunities, that’s the bottom line. So quality of life could have been enhanced significantly if only they had listened to the proper technical advice.”
Cummings, however, said that the government is “without shame”.
“And I say to my dear listeners, again, if the owners of that equipment didn’t find it necessary to remove it from St. Vincent and the Grenadines and you could imagine the choice language that was used to those people when they requested to move it out — because they would not want it to have been moved until after the election because they wanted to keep it hush what everybody knows. It’s the wrong end and for so long but it wanted to keep it hush.’
Cummings, however, said that the drilling company want their equipment “because every day it stays there is a lot of money wasted for them, but that’s all they want to do: fool the population to make believe that something is coming; something else is happening.
“And you have some people who call themselves public servants who are more politician than the politician who supported the wrong technical decision and in now time, trying to justify it and want to talk to people about the in-politics.
“My God, maybe one of the plans was for that gentleman, were the geothermal project to be functioning all now, … to have him as one of the candidates in one of the constituencies, but now he himself is more of a liability to them than the failed geothermal project and that’s why they’re dancing on the proverbial head of a pin to mamaguy the people of this country when they know that the project has failed and failed miserably. What a bunch of people; it’s a sad thing.”