Published On: Wed, Oct 28th, 2015

Curaçao fears closure refinery after seizure

protestWILLEMSTAD - More than a thousand employees of the Isla refinery have demonstrated against the environmental organizations of the island, which have seized the bank accounts of the refinery.

Isla has to pay a penalty to the movement of 75 million guilders. The employees find that unacceptable, and are supported by a large part of the Curaçao population.

The environmental organizations are engaged in a legal dispute with Isla. Two foundations filed a lawsuit in 2010 to order the oil refinery not to emit more sulfur dioxide than other contaminants on the island. According to the Isla operator, the Venezuelan state company PDVSA, they are not exceeding the standards. But new calculations by TNO indicate that in 2013, the refinery has emitted nearly one and a half times as much sulfur dioxide as is allowed.

A previous calculation of a court-appointed expert showed the opposite. The refinery has remained under that calculation within the standards. But according to the environmental organizations, the expert has made mistakes. Isla says precisely that the TNO calculation is wrong.

The environmental organizations and a group of citizens tried last week with the TNO report in hand to collect the imposed fine of 75 million guilders (42 million dollars). Isla refused to pay. In those circumstances, the environmental organization seized the shares of the oil refinery and a number of accounts of suppliers of the oil giant.

The seizure also affects the national water and electricity company, Aqualectra and the fuel distributor Curoil. Which are both state companies. Isla is trying to lift the seizure in a lawsuit. Monday the government stated that they support the refinery; which asked the court to allow them as an interested party to be added to the claimant, Isla.

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