Another standstill at Isla after BOO-failure


WILLEMSTAD — A blackout at the Isla-refinery, involved an enormous smoke- and stench-inconvenience.


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The failure of the production units had already started after problems with the BOO power plant.

Isla-spokesperson Kenneth Gijsbertha confirmed the aforementioned. Eighty percent of the production units had come to a standstill yesterday because the BOO had not been able to supply any air and steam. After the Isla had tried to re-start the cat cracker yesterday evening, BOO announced that the problems with the steam supply had worsened. The entire refinery had then come to a standstill at three-fifteen this morning.

A group of discontented co-workers headed towards the administrative office at Concordiastraat this morning after the umpteenth standstill at the Isla. After the management of the Isla-refinery had spoken to representatives of trade union PWFC, the concerned personnel decided to lodge a complaint with the Board of Governors after all. PWFC-Chairman Angelo Meijer articulated the discontentment on the radio this afternoon and specifically wagged its finger at BOO (CUC). He emphasized Isla suffering economical loss in view of the halting supply of steam, electricity and water by the power plant of the Curaçao Utilities Company (CUC). According to the Chairman of the trade union, the BOO works with inferior – ‘perhaps second-hand’ – materials. "Every start up implies another risk for the Isla-personnel", says Meijer. As a solution, he suggests the Isla to operate the BOO power plant again. "We have the relevant knowledge and possibilities." CUC is currently owned by Aqualectra (49 percent) and by the Japanese multinational Marubeni/Mitsubishi (51 percent). Actually, the BOO power plant has been coping with problems since the beginning of this century and has never met the promised delivery capacity.

The incineration process of the remaining gasses in the system automatically starts up, once the production units come to a standstill. This torching involved substantial and more soot-black emission than usual, as it lacked the steam component.
Gijsbertha announced this morning, that most of the remaining gasses have been incinerated in the meantime.

It is still obscure as to when the problems with the BOO power plant will be solved. "We have no idea", says Gijsbertha. The start up will certainly involve inconvenience again. The refinery had been in full operation until yesterday’s occurrence.

Withdrawal PdVSA
The Isla had also made the news in Venezuela last Saturday. Minister of Oil Affairs, Rafael Ramirez announced in the Saturday edition of the Venezuelan newspaper Ultimas Noticias that the state-owned company PdVSA would possibly withdraw from Curaçao as tenant of the refinery. The reason, according to Ramirez, regarded the American provocations from the military FOL-base at Hato.

PdVSA has a tenancy agreement for the exploitation of Isla until 2019. At normal capacity, the refinery produces up to 230,000 barrels per day. In practice, this amounts to an average of 190,000. This had been considerably lower last year in view of BOO’s inadequate delivery of steam and electricity.
The Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez regularly declares that the US abuses the FOL-base for espionage flights over Venezuela, even though the base is meant for drug combating. The controversial left-winged leader also declared that Washington is supposedly devising plans for a military invasion in his country.
Ramirez’ comments are calling attention to the refinery’s future again. The Isla processes crude oil from Venezuela. For the greater part, the evolving fuel products are meant for the American market.
During the past years, it has become increasingly difficult to acquire openness on financial figures as the head office in Caracas continues to draw more of its management.
On the other hand, the many years’ pending court case in which the Isla had been obligated to reduce the polluting emission drastically, still plays a role. In the meantime, the refinery is considered substantially antiquated.

Six schools closed due to pollution from Isla

The Roman Catholic Governing Body (RKCS) cancelled this morning’s classes at five schools as the pollution from the Isla-refinery considerably inconvenienced the teachers, supportive personnel and pupils. For the same reasons, the Department Public Schools (DOS) also closed down Kolegio Cola Debrot per instruction of the Board of Governors. The classes will continue as usual tomorrow, if the media does not report otherwise.

"Several parents and their children had immediately made a U-turn this morning once they realized the extent of the soot and stench at the school. Towards 07.45 hours, the decision had been made to close the fo-schools Kolegio Santa Famia and Kolegio Wim Ellis, the junior high vsbo-school Maria College, the senior high vsbo-school Ancilla domini and the havo/vwo-school Maria Immaculata Lyceum (MIL)", says director Lisitte van Lamoen-Garmers of the RKCS.
She is aware that a number of children and teachers had already become unwell from the root and stench. "Those suffering from asthma, for example, cannot endure such a situation", say Van Lamoen-Garmers.
Children old enough to return home with public transportation were allowed to do so today, while others had been picked up later on.
"Regarding the two fo-schools in question, it is our policy that the children are not allowed to travel home on their own", the RKCS-director emphasized. This morning, she had not been informed yet on how many fo-children eventually had had to hang around the school until they could return home in the usual manner during the afternoon.
Van Lamoen-Garmers further explains that in such cases, the RKCS assumes that the classes will continue as usual the next day. Nevertheless, parents and teachers are requested to mind news coverage as it will announce any decision on the cancellation of tomorrow’s classes later in the day.