Review of Environmental, Social, and Labor Issues
1. Environmental Classification
This is a category III project according to the IIC's environmental and labor review procedure because specific impacts may result that can be avoided or mitigated by adhering to generally recognized performance standards, guidelines, and design criteria. The main environmental and labor issues related to this project include domestic liquid effluent treatment, solid waste disposal, laboratory waste disposal, fire safety, safety during construction of the buildings, and health and safety of employees and students.
2. Principal Environmental Impacts
Universidad Católica Andrés Bello - UCAB is a private institution of higher education. Its head office is in Urbanización Montalbán-La Vega, in Venezuela's capital city, Caracas. Its main campus is within an area zoned for educational purposes by the pertinent authorities. UCAB has three other campuses in inland Venezuela:
Solid Waste Management.
- Coro: By virtue of an agreement with the Salesian Sisters, the University offers an educational program aimed at making up for the scarcity of preschool and elementary school teachers in this region of the country.
- Los Teques: Pursuant to a covenant with the Salesian Fathers, the campus offers courses in education, accountancy, management and philosophy.
- Guayana: UCAB is developing a new, 10-hectare campus for 5,000 new undergraduate students and about a hundred graduate students.
The solid domestic waste from the main UCAB campus in Caracas is removed by a private company under a concession for such services granted by the municipality.
A waste paper recycling program has been in place in all campuses of the University for a number of years, whereby paper is collected and removed by a company specialized in recycling. This procedure will be implemented in the new building under construction.
As part of its academic activities, UCAB has science and engineering laboratories where chemical reagents are used during demonstrations for the students. The waste, which is small in volume, is currently disposed of in the public sewage system, with no prior treatment. Following IIC's request, UCAB will develop a system to treat said waste. This system will be included in the Environmental Management Plan to be submitted to the IIC.
Liquid Effluent Treatment.
The project includes a water treatment plant, because all liquid effluent from the main campus, including wastewater, is currently disposed of in Caracas' public sewage system, untreated.
The main idea is for the system to be a teaching tool as well, and to use the treated water for watering the university grounds. A preliminary study is available on the nature of the water, and a prospective location, including draft measurements, has been identified. This project has been developed as a postgraduate thesis, and this approach will be continued until a definitive design is found.
Drinking water will be supplied to the new building, as well as the whole campus, by Hidrocapital, the Caracas water company, which is affiliated with the Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources as per the guidelines provided by Hidroven, the main agency for drinking water and sanitation in Venezuela. A well on the main campus is used mainly during emergencies, when the main source fails. Electricity will be supplied by the national power network.
Occupational health and safety. Fire safety.
During the construction of the building, the employees use the basic safety equipment required by domestic regulations in force. The minimum equipment for all workers includes a helmet, safety gloves, and boots, plus, as needed, devices such as ear protection for use with noisy tools, face shields, rubber aprons, special gloves for welders, face masks for jobs involving fine powder, face and eye protection devices for use with grinding or polishing machines, safety harnesses to prevent falls, etc. Third parties not involved in the work are protected from injury by means of a number of safety measures, including:
- Perimeter fence to restrict access, and
- Surveillance at the entrance, in order to prevent unauthorized persons from entering the area.
Regarding firefighting, the building is fitted with a state-of-the-art fire detection system, as well as all necessary equipment for fire extinction, namely hoses and extinguishers located as per the applicable rules issued by COVENING (Comisión Venezolana de Normas Industriales, or Venezuelan Commission for Industrial Standards).
During construction: The minimum age for entering the labor market is 18, as per the collective labor contract for the construction industry and labor regulations in force (Ley Orgánica del Trabajo.) Likewise, UCAB employees are required to be 18 or older. UCAB allows its workers to join associations. A number of associations exist within the institution, including those that organize workers, teachers, administrative staff, students and alumni. In turn, these associations are affiliated with their national counterparts.Oversight and Compliance.
Monitoring and control procedures will be described in the Environmental Management Plan to be prepared by UCAB. The company will also submit a yearly report summarizing the monitoring data related to wastewater discharge, solid waste disposal, fire safety, occupational health and safety, accident reports, and other labor related issues. Throughout the project, the IIC will ensure compliance with its own environmental and labor policies, review the verification reports submitted each year, and may make regular field visits as part of the project supervision process.