Some residents of Linden had their hopes dashed but others were in no way surprised when the management of the local bauxite company announced that it had failed to meet its commitment to put one of two dust collector units in operation by February month-end, and now they have set a new deadline for August.
The announcement by Bosai Minerals Group Guy-ana Inc., Personnel Officer Vance Reid was made at a recent meeting with stakeholders in the Linden community and subsequently was broadcast on the local television station.
The announcement came less than a month after Reid assured Stabroek News that they were on target with the construction, notwithstanding the challenges of the inclement weather between November 2011 and February 2012.
In September 2011 works on the construction of the dust collection units began progressing apace with the company bringing in large shipments of components for the units.
In addition a team of Chinese experts were also brought in to complete the construction. Since then the company had been urging residents to give their support and show patience as they held fast to their commitment of having at least one of the units in place by the end of February.
The same position was repeated via the company’s local television programme.
A panel of senior officers of the company accompanied Reid at the recent stakeholders’ meeting, including Lethem Wilson, Technical Services Coordinator Wainwright Bethune, and Engineer Orrin Barnwell.
Stakeholders included Regional Chairman Kuice Sharma Solomon, Interim Management Committee Chairman Orrin Gordon, and representatives from the Linden Chamber of Com-merce, Industry and Deve-lopment.
In his brief discourse Reid attempted to explain the delay, noting that besides the weather they experienced some challenges in sourcing several components which were not available in Guyana or the Caribbean.
However Reid remained optimistic that BOSAI would come good on their promise to be the first bauxite company in Region 10 to successfully put dust collector units into operation.
However, stakeholders had deep concerns about whether the units would be able to significantly reduce the amount of dust emitted. The question was first raised by Regional Chairman Solomon with spinoff queries by other regional councillors and stakeholders who were present.
Reid, supported by Bethune, said that in 2010 some levels of sampling were in train in West Watooka, Silvertown and Christianburg at Wismar and in Amelia’s Ward on the Mackenzie end but this came to an unexpected halt after the equipment used in the process failed recently. They did not say how soon this process would recommence and what were the findings prior to the failure of the equipment.
Residents and stakeholders have long questioned the level of involvement of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) which they say needed to have a more active part in the process.
Meanwhile, Dr. Vincent Adams, a Lindener who is an internationally recognized leader in the area of environmental issues and management, also had raised eyebrows and questions about the entire process. He had also indicated his strong interest in returning home to assist in the verification process. Dr. Adams is adamant that the EPA and the people of Linden should accept no less in emission standards and practices than are currently accepted by developed countries to protect human health and the environment.
The issue of having the dust emission arrested has a long history. Cambior took over the bauxite operations in Linden in 2005 and had tabled plans to have two dust collector units installed by 2007. However, the company encountered a drastic decline in bauxite markets.
Bosai took over the operations in April 2007 and abandoned the engineering work which was done by Cambior and did its own, utilizing its own expertise. Several deadlines were set for the commencement and completion of the dust collector units, the first being in 2009.
Bosai was having the design and construction work done overseas and the installation was estimated to be completed in one year but this took much longer than estimated, according to Reid in a previous statement.
In a release from Bosai in September 2011 the company was quoted by Stabroek News as saying: “The EPA is also closely monitoring the project and is frequently updated on the progress by the BMGGI Environmental Department. Bosai also has a television programme… to inform the general populace of each phase of the construction of the dust collector system. In addition, quarterly medical outreach programmes are held at different health centres in Linden and are well attended by the residents.”
The release had further stated that Bosai remained a committed corporate citizen. “Although we understand the frustration of the Lindeners with the dust situation for over four decades, we ask for their patience since the promise of the installation of the dust collector system would materialize in the very near future.”
Stabroek News sought the view of several residents following the recent release that the company had failed to once again meet their set deadline.
Several persons expressed the view that the management was not totally honest to residents of the community and has not done enough to compensate as a corporate citizen.
A taxi driver, opined that BOSAI should have been straightforward on their TV programme and let residents know in advance that they were behind target and not build up the hopes of residents.
Jeffrey Griffith, another resident, said that he felt that the Chinese-owned company can and should be doing more for the community. “Now, after all this building up we got they now giving town council one million dollars for town week activities. We hardly hear of this company (BOSAI) doing anything significant for this town.” He alluded to the recent publication in the Stabroek News about the dust problems endured by residents of Noitedgacht at Mackenzie.
“Any entity which cares for the people would have never constructed such a road just over a community. They don’t care three hang about the people who living in Noitedgacht, more than the dust those people got to put up with the heavy noise from them trucks whole day and whole night and what deh doing for them there, nothing,” said Griffith.
Several taxi and minibus drivers had serious concerns about the dust emitted, saying that in their judgment the level of dust had increased over the past few months.
“Just look at this place this goodly morning, the sun competing with the cloud of dust,” said one taxi driver. Another pointed to his dust covered car, stating that it was less than an hour since he had completed washing his vehicle. To date Bosai has completed the dust collector unit for kiln 14 past 75% while that for kiln 13 is about 25% completed. The company is awaiting the arrival of some key electrical components to allow for the completion of works to the unit for kiln 14. This includes two three megawatt generators which will be the main source of power for the units.
The new deadline for the completion of the dust collector unit for kiln 14 is set for August 2012 by which time Reid said it would be a much simpler and faster process for the completion of the second unit.