Island activists battle plans for new aluminum smelters

Put on your sixth-grade geography cap, because a battle over aluminum smelters is heating up in, of all places, the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. Residents of the tiny Caribbean nation have spent nearly two years fighting plans for two new smelters put forth by a Trinidadian corporation, U.S.-based Alcoa, and a Venezuelan company. And while it’s nice to think that U.S. and Venezuelan interests overlap in any way, this might not be the place to start. Anti-smelter activists say the plants will be built near a major fault line and will create waste-disposal and health issues whose full implications aren’t known. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Patrick Manning — the prospect of thousands of jobs a persistent gleam in his eye — has just announced that a third smelter might be built. “The prime minister is behaving recklessly and defying the population,” said former attorney general Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj. Hmm, sounds like someone we know.