Approval sought for oil incinerator

Objections made

Caribbean Utilities Company wants Planning permission for an incinerator to burn hundreds of thousands of gallons of used oil generated at its plant.

The oil is now shipped off-island.

‘The purpose of this project is to provide an on-island solution for the disposal of used oil. Currently we dispose of approximately 18,000 US gallons per month and the only option we have at this time is to export for disposal,’ states a letter from Manager of the CUC Engineering Services Department Mr. Sacha Tibbetts to Director of the Planning Department Mr. Kenneth Ebanks. ‘This represents significant challenges, and an on-island solution is needed.’

The letter states that CUC has chosen a model capable of handling a capacity of 180 US gallons per hour.

The letter was sent out to surrounding land owners.

A company called Artemis Property Services Ltd. received the letter Christmas Eve and hired an attorney to object to the proposal.

A principal of the company, Mr. Geoff Cahill, said he was concerned that CUC had ‘not been required to perform an independent environmental impact study. When he first contacted Department of Environment he was told they were not aware of the proposal to burn the oil.’

DoE Deputy Director Timothy Austin confirmed they first found out about the proposal when contacted by a member of the public who had received planning notification.

‘We have started looking at the application,’ he said. ‘We have little prior experience in this area, so we requested assistance from an engineering company in Leeds in the UK. They are experts in issues involving waste oil and we hope to hear back from them soon.’

Mr. Cahill is concerned that ‘the diesel (we get in Cayman) has a high sulphur content, and burning the oil residue out of the bottom of their (CUC’s) engines could result in fumes being emitted that are unhealthy for the public and the environment.’

CUC spokesperson Ms Caren Thompson issued the following statement in response to the inquiries from the Caymanian Compass:

‘Caribbean Utilities Company is continuing to pursue permission from the Central Planning Authority for this state-of-the-art disposal unit. Presently there is an ongoing exchange of information with the Authority regarding the project, which we are confident will allow us to better manage the handling of used oil and provide CUC with a responsible on-island solution…I can confirm that the environmental modelling for this project meets (US) EPA requirements, a standard which CUC has voluntarily adopted as part of our commitment to prevent pollution.’

Mr. Tibbett’s letter to Planning said CUC is seeking a permit to dispose of the used oil in a safe and environmentally friendly manner.

In the United Kingdom planning permission for any new incinerators must also be accompanied by a health impact assessment.

This includes information about the chemical substances and quantities that are released into the atmosphere, estimates of the dispersal of the pollutants and identification of the population areas that are exposed to the pollutants.

‘CUC has achieved third party registration through the International Standards Organisation,’ the CUC press statement said.

Information available on CUC’s website shows that during the certification process CUC was required to implement an environmental management system.

‘The EMS was launched in January 2003 to define programmes for monitoring, controlling, and reporting of the Company’s Significant Environmental Impacts. These SEA’s are defined activities and products that can severely impact the environment, such as exhaust emissions, the management of fuels, oil, oily wastes, hydrocarbon solids, chemicals and hazardous waste and the disposal of processed water.’

The Caymanian Compass has requested additional information about these Significant Environmental Impacts including details about current emissions from the plant. Ms Thompson has indicated an interview will be scheduled at a later date.

On the company’s website it says that, ‘Although environmental regulations in the Cayman Islands are less onerous than those in North America, the Company believes it acts responsibly in environmental matters…CUC continues to burn diesel fuel oil that although considerably more expensive than heavy fuel oil, results in significantly lower levels of exhaust emissions.’

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