In November 2016, NV GEBE was implicated in an environmental, health and safety issue that caused disturbance, mainly to the Cole Bay and Cape Bay areas. Exhaust gas eliminating from the exhaust gas stacks of the NV GEBE electricity production plant was implied to be causing a hazardous state to the areas.
Reports of students and staff of the Leonard Connor School becoming ill by a gas hanging in the air over the school, were made, and an evacuation and a subsequent temporary shutdown of the school was deemed necessary. The Minister of Education, Culture and Youth Affairs, Ms. Sylveria Jacobs, summoned the authorities to investigate the situation and it was verified that gas was indeed looming in the air and thereby affecting the school. Unfortunately, reports, indirectly associated NV GEBE as the culprit and led persons to assume that the exhaust gas from the exhaust gas stacks was the underlying cause of the illness that had befallen some students and staff of the Leonard Connor School.
The Managing Board of NV GEBE remained adamant in its knowledge that the exhaust gas did not play a factor in this matter and noted that no accounts of such cases occurring within the immediate surroundings of the production plant were ever received. Mr. Kenrick Chittick, CEO of NV GEBE, had informed authorities that the gas Hydrogen Cyanide HCN, that was measured in preliminary reports by the investigative team, ordered by Minister Jacobs, was not a waste product of the heavy fuel, light fuel and lubricant oils used by NV GEBE in its process to produce electricity. In an effort to make good of its name, the Managing Board of NV GEBE ordered a complete investigation and hired Medi Check to obtain, determine, measure, and evaluate the gas in the air and to present the findings to the Managing Board and Supervisory Board of Directors of NV GEBE.
The tests were carried out using two part indicators, and conclusively declared that on a 31 day daily average basis there is no indication that the Cape Bay or Pelican communities are exposed to fuel oil exhaust gas concentrations, including 53 different volatile organic compounds, exceeding the EU/RIVM/WHO threshold limits for safe ambient air and that on a one daily basis there is no indication that the Cape Bay and the Pelican communities are exposed to PM 2,5ug and PM 10ug platelets (ultra-fine dust and sooth) concentrations exceeding the EU/RIVM/WHO threshold limits for safe ambient air.
Despite the results exonerating NV GEBE of this environmental, health and safety implication, the Managing Board of NV GEBE, agreed to assist the Ministry of Education, Culture and Youth Affairs, in upgrading the inadequate electrical installation of the Leonard Connor School and the building itself. The electrical upgrade increased the electrical load capacity that eliminated the electrical problems the school was experiencing and also permitted for the installation of NV GEBE donated air conditioning units.
CEO, Mr. Kenrick Chittick stated that businesses, both small and large, have a social responsibility to the community and that he considered the 313,013.50 guilders input into the school as money well spent on education for St. Maarten. Mr. Chittick further stated that businesses thrive through the support of the community and should return the support as well.