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Caribbean news briefs

Caribbean news briefs

BONAIRE: Lightning fire halts operations at Venezuelan-run fuel terminal
KRALENDIJK, Bonaire (AP) _ A huge fire caused by a lightning strike sent up a plume of black smoke Thursday and halted operations at a Venezuelan-owned fuel terminal on the Dutch island of Bonaire. No injuries were reported.
Fire Chief Arthur Dammers, who led a crew of 14 firefighters, said the blaze had been isolated and should be extinguished by Friday morning at the latest.
Flames soared 300 feet (91 meters) above the tank, Dammers said, and were visible across the small, southern Caribbean island that is best known as a destination for divers.
Gov. Glenn Thode said there were no injuries or damage to other parts of the island, and no evacuations were necessary.
Three planes _ two from Venezuela and one from the Caribbean nation of St. Kitts and Nevis _ were flying in with flame-smothering foam and other portable firefighting equipment, Dammers said.
"The wind is slow, which is very good. So once we get our equipment, we should be able to put it out," he said.
Venezuela's state-owned oil company, Petroleos de Venezuela, owns and operates the terminal for shipments abroad and the local market. The company said operations have been halted by the fire, which was sparked Wednesday when lighting struck a tank containing the oil product naphtha.
On the nearby Dutch island of Curacao, two tanks briefly caught fire Wednesday at a separate fuel terminal owned by Petroleos de Venezuela in Bullen Bay. Lightning is also believed to have caused those blazes, which were extinguished, said Kenneth Gijsbertha, a spokesman for the refinery in Curacao. Gijsbertha said no one was injured.
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TRINIDAD: New government drops smelter proposal pushed by previous prime minister
PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad (AP) _ Trinidad's new government has scrapped the previous prime minister's plan to build an aluminum smelter and industrial park in a coastal fishing village where many feared it would bring pollution.
Finance Minister Winston Dookeran, during a budget presentation on Wednesday, told lawmakers that former Prime Minister Patrick Manning's $786 million smelter proposal for the southern coastal area of La Brea was an "outrageous expenditure."
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, whose five-party coalition won a 29-12 advantage in May parliamentary elections, had campaigned on a pledge to cancel Manning's smelter proposal for the rural community.
For years, numerous villagers said they feared for their health if the project was built. Environmental groups also opposed the smelter, which would have been a joint venture between state-owned Alutrint and Venezuelan company Sural.
Last year, a judge suspended construction of the smelter in response to a complaint that the Environmental Management Authority did not follow procedure when it gave permission to Alutrint to pursue building.
Dookeran also told legislators that Persad-Bissessar's administration would not pursue Manning's plans for a rapid rail transport system, saying "this nation has suffered enough from bad judgment."
Without providing specifics, he said the government of the oil- and gas-rich Caribbean nation would follow its own energy and transport strategies.
Persad-Bissessar's office and a spokesman for the opposition People's National Movement did not immediately respond to phone messages on Thursday.
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PUERTO RICO: Island plans test project to convert algae to oil for fueling electricity plants
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) _ Puerto Rico is embarking on a test project for converting algae to oil as part of a campaign to lessen the U.S. territory's dependence on expensive imported oil.
A local company running the program that was announced Thursday said it expects to harvest eight types of algae from more than 2,000 acres (809 hectares) at an abandoned shrimp farm it is taking over in the northern coastal city of Dorado.
Puerto Rico's power company, the Electric Energy Authority, will mix the algae oil produced by the project with diesel and other types of fuel to produce electricity, agency spokesman Carlos Monroig said.
The goal is to produce more than 2 million gallons of oil a year.
"This is a first step," Monroig said. "We have to lower the price of fuel and power."
Puerto Rico depends on oil-fired power plants for 70 percent of its electricity, and the government has been seeking alternate energy sources, including natural gas.
Bio-Lipids of Puerto Rico, the company running the algae conversion project, said it expects to begin harvesting algae in four months and start extracting oil from the microorganisms in eight months.
Workers will infuse the algae fields with carbon dioxide gas extracted from the Bacardi rum company's fermentation process and from the state power authority's electricity plants.
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HAITI: UN soldier from Yemen shot, robbed by gunmen on motorcycles outside bank
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) _ The United Nations mission in Haiti says one of its peacekeepers and a civilian woman have been shot by robbers outside a bank in the capital.
U.N. police spokesman Jean-Francois Vezina says three gunmen approached on motorcycles and shot the off-duty Yemeni soldier as he left a Sogebank branch Thursday morning.
The robbers took an undisclosed amount of money from the soldier, who was not in uniform.
Vezina says the soldier is in stable condition with a bullet wound in his shoulder. The Haitian woman injured in the attack in the capital's Petionville neighborhood is also receiving treatment.
There have recently been several armed robberies outside banks and money-changing stands across Port-au-Prince.


Updated : 2021-04-16 00:47 GMT+08:00