WILLEMSTAD — Yesterday, the court has also suspended the hearing of the Isla-verdict May 28th. In this, it was determined that the Isla should stop exceeding the emission norm of sulphur dioxide per January 2010 at the Jewish cemetery Beth Chaim under penalty of a fine of 5 million guilders per year.
At the time, Institute Clean Environment Curaçao (Smoc) had conducted the civil proceedings on behalf of 24 inhabitants living directly under the pollution. They won this case. The Isla took the case to a higher court, which will be heard on November 13th. They had submitted a request for suspension. The verdict in the LAR-procedure was also suspended last week. This concerns the upholding of the norm by the Board of Directors. The Isla also took this case to a higher court, and the hearing is expected to take place on October 30th.
In yesterday’s verdict, the court considered, amongst others, that it should be taken into account that in the verdict of May 28th, the judge unjustifiably determined that the necessary investments to run the refinery in compliance with the environment norms, would amount to a total of approx. 100 million dollars. However, from the second expert report it appears that the relevant measure, the adding of LSFO (Low Suphur Fuel Oil) was for the Isla’s own fuel usage, has an estimated financial effect of 100 million dollars per year.
Furthermore, the case in higher court must be taken into consideration. After all, it has been established that the recovery risk with regard to a possible right for compensation is considerable for the Isla, according to the court. The court points out to parties that an incidental claim could be instituted to annul the suspension.
In last week’s suspension, the court judged, amongst others, that the hearing of the verdict would imply that action should be taken. "If the Isla does not close down their refinery and comply with the disposition, it is likely that this will request substantial investments before the higher court has decided how the permit should be interpreted and what the contents of the enforceable regulations would be for the Isla."
In a reaction, Smoc-Chairman Peter van Leeuwen announced that the court’s decision of yesterday fits within the course of the proceedings. "We won the case, but the Isla now acts as if the permits have been interpreted incorrectly. That is entirely wrong and we will tackle this during the hearing of the cases in higher court."
Obtaining funds for court cases
Smoc started placing advertisements this week to obtain funds for their court cases as these cost a considerable amount of money, and the organization, which consists of volunteers, is not subsidized. The number of private donations, which they received during the past years, was used for the court cases. Peter van Leeuwen: "It is a lengthy battle we are fighting, and with considerable success until now. The Isla has deployed an army of lawyers, but even if we win the case in a higher court, an appeal with the court of cassation has already been lodged. It would a downright shame if we had to give up the current successful battle because of financial considerations."
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