Review of Environmental, Social, and Labor Issues
Environmental and Labor Issues:
This is a category III project according to the IIC’s environmental and labor review procedure because it could produce certain effects that may be avoided or mitigated by following generally recognized performance standards, guidelines, or design criteria. The principal environmental and social issues related to this project include: air emission, water consumption, solid waste, liquid effluents, and occupational health and safety, and community relations.
As part of the environmental assessment, the project team reviewed the Declaración de Impacto Ambiental (Environmental Impact Assessment, or EIA) and the Programa de Manejo y Adecuación Ambiental (Environmental Management Plan, or PMAA), prepared for the 82 megawatts gas-fired combined cycle power plant (dated May 2011) and the associated 8 km long gas pipeline. The Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources has issued a no-objection certificate for the EIA and PMAA. As outlined in the EIA, the company will also establish an Environmental Management System in line with international best practices.
The land where the plant will be built is owned by the company and consists of a scarcely vegetated area bordering Las Americas Highway to the south. The land bordering the property to the north, east, and west consists of vacant, abandoned lots. In addition, the gas pipeline will follow the existing right-of-way adjacent to Las Americas Highway.
Air Emissions: Using gas as fuel, Boca Chica will have minimal emission of SO2 and particulate matter, and the level of nitrogen oxides is about 60% of those from plants using coal (without emission reduction measures). Natural gas-fired plants also release lower quantities of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas. The project company will use low NOx burners to ensure that NOx emissions are below international standards, such as the World Bank group emission guideline limits. In addition, the company will ensure continuous monitoring of stack emissions, as well as periodic monitoring of ambient air quality. Fugitive dust emissions during the construction phase will be mitigated using water to spray roads, reducing the speed of construction vehicles, and using covers on trucks carrying fill material.
Liquid Waste: The use of a closed-cycle system, where cooling water is recirculated, will prevent adverse impacts related to liquid effluent discharges. Sewage and other wastewater generated from restrooms, which are similar to domestic waste, will be treated by a septic system.
Water Consumption: Cooling water for the project will be obtained from well water rather than water from the municipal system. The company will ensure that the project does not negatively impact the water availability of local communities, who rely primarily on the municipal water supply.
Noise: The company will ensure that noise limits are within World Bank Group limits. As there are no residences near the project site, noise impacts on communities are not anticipated. However, the company will monitor noise levels during construction and operation of the project.
Occupational Health and Safety: The company will implement the appropriate health and safety measures, such as fire detection and alarm systems. Employees and contractors will be provided with the necessary personal protective equipment and training in accordance with World Bank guidelines.
Emergency Preparedness and Response: The company will develop a detailed emergency preparedness and response plan and procedures, including reporting lines and emergency evacuation procedures.
Waste Management: Gas-fired thermal power plants generate essentially no solid waste because of the negligible ash content, regardless of the combustion technology. Construction debris and any domestic waste generated will be disposed of in accordance with local standards.
Labor: The company and its contractors will adhere to the local labor requirements, as well as those required by the IIC.
Community Relations: The company successfully carried out the public consultation process (vista pública) for the project in March and April 2011. As a result of the meetings held with local community members from Andrés Boca Chica, a commission (comisión) is being formed with leaders from the community. An agreement was established with the community that all community development programs to be established by the project will be discussed and agreed to with the commission. In addition, any concerns or grievances about the project will also be addressed by the commision in conjunction with the company. At the request of the IIC, the company will also carry out additional public meetings with community members to specifically address the gas pipeline component of the project.
Monitoring and Reporting: The company is committed to implementing the necessary mitigation measures included in the environmental management plans developed for the project, as well as the Environmental and Social Action Plan (ESAP) to be developed in conjunction with the IIC to ensure compliance with the IIC’s environmental, labor, and workplace health and safety requirements. An annual environmental monitoring report shall be submitted to the IIC on the implementation status of the ESAP.