Energy Minister Hon. Rayburn Blackmoore has assured residents of the Roseau Valley that Government will put all necessary systems in place to guarantee their safety in relation to the geothermal project.
The Minister’s remarks came following a meeting held by residents of Laudat earlier this week to discuss concerns regarding the project.
“I want to give the people of Laudat the assurance that the Government of Dominica will continue to take all the necessary steps to put systems in place to mitigate any risk that may emerge as a result of our efforts to develop that resource.”
The Minister says in March 2011 prior to the commencement of test well drilling in the Roseau Valley, Government with the support of Caraibe Environnement a French consulting firm of Guadeloupe launched an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) of the area.
The main purpose of that EIA was to assist in setting up the organization and controls regarding the environmental prevention and risk mitigating measures before and during the execution of the Exploratory Drilling Project.
The Minister noted that commissioning of the EIA was in keeping with Government’s policy position that prior to the start of any geothermal resource development, the project must earn a positive EIA rating.
This policy position according to the Minister is consistent with the country’s nature isle and ‘green’ ecotourism branding strategy as well as advancing the best practice of sustainable development.
The Minister explained further that prior to the commencement of the drilling process Government held several consultations with residents of the Roseau Valley to keep them abreast with plans regarding the geothermal project.
“Before and during the actual drilling of the test wells there were a series of consultations with the villagers of the various areas including Laudat, Wotten Wave and Trafalgar among other nearby communities and there was tremendous participation from villagers.”
The Minister affirmed that a number of professional companies have been contracted to assist Government in throughout the process.
“During the actual process of the drilling of the test wells the Government of Dominica sourced support from persons with the best talent as far as geothermal development is concerned. We engaged a contracting firm and Iceland Geosurvey (ISOR) was hired solely for the testing and environmental monitoring of the drilling and geothermal wells. In addition the consulting firm, Geothermal Resource Group (GRG) of United States of America was contracted by the Government to supervise the operations and activities of both ISOR and the drilling contractor, Iceland Drilling Company (IDC).”
The Minister revealed that in addition an Italian Company was contracted to verify that all systems were in place prior to the commencement of drilling operations.
“Besides, the field work of the drilling contractor, a well testing and environmental monitoring contractor and a drilling supervision consultant was overseen by the Geothermal Project Management Unit who was supported by the Technical Assistant consultant, Electro-consultant (ELC) of Italy. That company provided a cadre of drilling engineers, Geologist, reservoir engineers, environmental geologists, mining engineers and economists.”
The Minister explained that “ELC actually carried out the compliance and verification of the drilling and environmental monitoring and was satisfied with the sound standards and practices adopted in the execution of the project.”
The Energy Minister says Government will continue to meet with the people of the Roseau Valley to discuss their concerns as the project progresses.
“We will continue as we move to the next level- that is the production and injection well - to consult and to meet with the people of Laudat, Trafalgar and Wotten Waven and will ensure that all the property rights of the villagers are maintained throughout the processes. We are very concerned by the fact that there are a number of persons who have genuine worries. Though they have a right to be concerned as Dominicans, there will be no situation where the Government of Dominica will move in and take people’s land. As we move forward if there is an issue where people will be affected as far as their property is concerned we will ensure that it will be done in the most civilized manner.”
The Government of Dominica is now in the process of developing the Geothermal Resource Development Bill which will place emphasis on regulation of the environment. The Geothermal Resources Development Bill proposes strict adherence to the Physical Planning Laws and Regulations, the environmental laws, and the Electricity Supplies Act of 2006.
The Minister says a guide of excellence will take into consideration all the mitigating factors which need to be put in place to ensure that there is minimal risk involved in the process.