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Fri 3rd Aug 2018

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Geothermal project could kill the high-quality drinking water in SVG

Drinking water is important for life. We cannot survive without water. The argument for geothermal electricity from an area of very high-quality drinking water cannot stand up. Warrant Officer Ivan O’Neal is totally against the geothermal plant in SVG for environmental reasons.

The Leader of SVG Green Party, Warrant Officer Ivan O’Neal BSc (hons), MSc, MBA, spent most of his youth living with his parents in an area known as lot 14, which is very close to the site being converted to a geothermal plant to produce electricity. There is a graceful lake in that area known as Kiss; geothermal is highly likely to kill that lake.

If this geothermal plant goes ahead, there will be a serious risk to the people of SVG. The risks are far too great. It could damage the aquifer and we would have no drinking water in SVG. It would kill our agriculture industry and cause an outbreak of water-borne diseases such as cholera, typhoid and dysentery. This would destroy SVG.

The town of Mammoth Lakes, California in the USA is marshalling forces against a geothermal company – Ormat - that wants to substantially increase the amount of hot water it’s pumping from a source deep underground. Mammoth residents fear that the expanded pumping could threaten the aquifer that sits hundreds of feet above the hot water zone and supplies 70 percent of the community’s drinking water.

What has people concerned is the distance between where the water is removed and where it is returned. It’s possible that removing that water could cause a pressure drop in the geothermal zone that might then draw down water from the cold water reservoir, says Bill Evans, a research chemist with the U.S. Geological Survey in Menlo Park, California. Or, it might cause steam and other gases to shoot up into the cold water aquifer, potentially contaminating it.

Patrick Hayes, the general manager at the Mammoth Community Water District, said he can’t begin to imagine how much damage would result should the water supply be compromised. Hayes says. “Without a reliable water supply there isn’t much viability in the community.”

Geothermal plants have several environmental problems. The main concern is the release of hydrogen sulphide, a gas that smells like rotten eggs at low concentrations. Another concern is the disposal of some geothermal fluids, which may contain low levels of toxic materials.

Whenever you drill miles into the Earth and remove material, whether it's steam, water or hot rock, you release pressure that causes the ground above the geothermal pocket to shift and subside. Even worse, the most abundant geothermal energy sources are located in areas of high seismic activity. In fact, some experts actually believe that drilling into the rocks around a fault line could trigger earthquakes.

Warrant Officer Ivan O’Neal very strongly contends that it is not too late to cancel the geothermal plant in SVG for very strong environmental reasons, as, (a) the geothermal plant has the potential to kill the very high-quality drinking water in SVG, (b) we are blessed with excellent topography - the physical features of our country gives us significant ability to produce all our electricity requirements from hydro, solar and wind SAFELY (c) we urgently need to cut import tax on renewable energy equipment (d) in the unlikely event of building the geothermal plant in that area, which is prone to volcanic eruptions, one volcanic eruption could plunge SVG into darkness and economic ruin.

It is absolute madness to build a geothermal plant in SVG; it is a waste of money and poses a serious long-term threat to our living environment and health.

Warrant Officer Ivan O’Neal BSc (hons), MSc, MBA strongly calls for policy makers to pull the plug on the geothermal project for the many reasons given above.

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