Government meets villagers in Wotten Waven about geothermal project
The Dominican government is telling the locals that ongoing geothermal sensitization meetings will continue to take place as this very sensitive energy possibility is debated and discussed. On Friday, January 18, 2013 I attended the third meeting in my own community of Wotten Waven to hear the comments and concerns of the locals regarding the plans for a production plant in Laudat and a reinjection well on the feeder road between Trafalgar and Wotten Waven.
A panel of four experts was met by over 100 people from Wotten Waven, nearby villages, visitors and foreign professionals. The meeting began with an announcement about protocol from Energy Minister Rayburn Blackmore. Upon his suggestion to hold all questions until after four Power Point presentations, an explosion of opposition erupted in the room. Clearly the audience wanted answers as a microphone was hastily passed throughout the audience as locals shouted, sobbed and prophesized their fears and concerns.
Children of all ages were at the meeting as well and eventually many migrated outside where they laughed, shouted and played contributing to the sheer pandemonium inside. The meeting quickly disintegrated to a shouting match of hurt, fearful and resentful feelings of mistrust on the lack of communication between government and the locals.
Yet, Mr. Blackmore held on to the sinking ship and did his best to address as many people as possible and include the experts in the exchange. Someone asked how much had been spent on the project so far? Twenty one million Eastern Caribbean (EC$21 million) was the answer. To that one lady grumbled, "better to give it to the people struggling on Dominica." One spa owner vehemently stated "leave everything as it is and send the white people back to their own country." One guest house owner defined Dominica's saleable product as "our untouched natural beauty and disrupting that would be a huge mistake." A round of applause followed the emotional appeal. Even though a topographical map was shown, it wasn't clear as to the exact circumference of the area that would be deforested and people wanted to know if their land would be impacted. A few present realized that ALL of Dominica would be impacted by the project not just the villages of Laudat, Trafalgar and Wotten Waven.
Clearly the audience was mostly against the project and many had made up their minds about aspects of it and would except nothing that was factual or reasonable. Most wanted guarantees of jobs, mechanical safety, health safety and as much information about day-to-day progress to ensure their continued way to life on Dominica.