Published On: Wed, Apr 20th, 2016

Curaçao pivot in international environmental scandal

P1030833WILLEMSTAD – The raid by local authorities at Asphalt Lake Recovery last Tuesday morning indicates possible involvement of Curaçao in an international environmental scandal. This is according to Herman Piso, expert in the field of asphalt processing.

Mixing asphalt with mainly chemical and carcinogenic waste into fuel is a little-known form of environmental crime where, according to the Dutch Justice, millions of euros are being earned with this practice.

In early 2012 the police in the Netherlands and Public Prosecution in Rotterdam started with an investigation under the name Andante. This investigation focused for some time on addressing the mixing of toxic waste into fuel.

The Netherlands is one of the largest producers of fuel oil for ships in the world. The route via Curaçao, according to Piso, is especially attractive because of the presence of 500,000 cubic meters of asphalt in the asphalt lake. A legacy of World War II when Shell widely produced kerosene for the Allied forces and the residual was pumped in a swampy part of the Schottegat.

Diesel can be used as a thinner to make fuel oil. “But if you turn a blind eye,” said Piso, “then you can also use all kinds of waste from the petrochemical industry. This type of waste is expensive to process because of the strict environmental regulations in Europe. In Curaçao you have less problems and the knife cuts both ways: a cheap way to get rid of your mess and you make more profit with your fuel as a final product.”

Justice still does not give information about the investigation, but says that samples were taken at the site of the Isla refinery, where the asphalt processing plant is located. Piso says to have proof that the Asphalt Lake Recovery does not mix the asphalt with diesel, but a substance which is very volatile.

Authorities could have known, when an explosion took place in the factory in March 2013. During welding, volatile compounds were found to be in the factory hall. Two people died in that accident. The investigation did manage to pinpoint the cause, but gave no explanation for the presence of these substances in the hall.

“I know the process that is being used there. In the processing of asphalt into fuel oil there are no volatile substances. At least when your work with diesel as a thinner. The accident shows that Asphalt Lake Recovery at that time already deviated from the standard process. The raid last Tuesday had to take place two years ago,” says Piso.

By Dick Drayer

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