Environmental protection law needs to be changed now

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Mr. Editor,

In my opinion, the pace of institution building and updating laws, rules and procedures relating to the oil and gas industry is a bit too slow. The production and export of oil appear to be ahead of the capacities and capacities of the agencies concerned. For example, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a “Public Notice” for a company Non-Destructive Testers Limited (Guy-ana) Inc. to establish a “Storage of Sealed Radioactive Sources – Device for industrial radiography ”, in order to be located in Lot 1 of Lots 1 and 2 Thuiste Te Coverden, East Bank, Demerara. This matter, I must point out, is very personal because Coverden is my village and I have over 200 blood relatives in this village. However, my concern goes beyond self-interest, the Environmental Protection Act was passed in 1998, I correct myself – this was long before the oil and gas industry became operational. The law states the following:

Section (11) (2) “When it is not clear that a project will significantly affect the environment, the developer shall submit to the Agency a summary of the project which must contain the information required by paragraph (1 ) and the Agency must within a reasonable period of time publish in at least one daily a reasoned decision indicating whether the project – (a) will not significantly affect the environment, and therefore exempt from the requirement of an environmental assessment. ‘environmental impact ; or (b) may significantly affect the environment and will require an environmental impact assessment ”.

Section (3) (a) states: “Any person likely to be affected by a project exempted under paragraph (2) (a) may appeal to the Environmental Assessment Board… within sixty days of the date publication of the Agency’s decision. , and the Environmental Assessment Commission publishes within a reasonable time a decision confirming or rescinding the Agency’s decision ”.

I think the Environmental Protection Agency uses the same assessment process, which was used for chicken farms, sawmills, clay brick factories (I’m correcting), to assess operations versus oil operations. and gas. Now editor-in-chief, this is the Environmental Protection Agency, it is the technical experts, however, according to article (3) (a) of the law, the burden falls on the villagers and citizens non-technical, to appeal against these highly technical projects. In my opinion, this is the blatant irresponsibility of a country. This is a “Storage of Sealed Radioactive Sources – Industrial X-ray Machine”, what will the resident of Coverden know of the radioactivity to appeal? Based on the notoriety of the oil and gas sector in Guyana, its importance for the development of the country and in the interest of the well-being of the citizens, I strongly recommend the following:

That Article (11) (2) of the Environmental Protection Law be immediately amended to read as follows: “When it is not clear whether a project will significantly affect the environment [With the exception of all projects related to Oil and Gas industry], the promoter submits to the Agency a summary of the project which must contain the information required by paragraph (1)…

Further, I recommend that the Environmental Assessment Board, as currently constituted under section 18 of the Environmental Protection Act, be reviewed and reconstituted as a constitutional body under of the Constitution of Guyana. This will to a large extent ensure greater independence and professionalism in the functioning of the Council. I would also like to suggest that the post of “executive director” of EPA be approved by a constitutional commission or constitutional body. Editor, I am of the opinion that the oil and gas industry could become part of our problem, but it is undoubtedly a huge part of our solution. I support investments, development, but it must be done in a sustainable manner. Our approach must be part of the path of sustainable development and sustainable business. I would also like to state that many Coverden residents support and are willing to consider investments in our community, however, we would like to set some limits on the types of investments, there is a need to better plan the location of these

projects, and possible zoning should be done.

As this is the second

project for the village, some of my technical colleagues have helped develop what can be used as a template to discuss with the EPA, if there is interest, for a more structured and collaborative stakeholder approach to put in place a system of commitments, including community members, in monitoring and minimizing risks throughout the various stages of the operations of these projects. Finally, Coverden has unique historical and cultural characteristics, for example my family members are over 200 years old and have resided in the village since 1842, over 178 years, in addition to other residents. I do not know of any other village in Guyana where a single family residing in a village is so large, as such one of the key considerations for investments in Coverden, should be to minimize exposure and additional burdens for a family, as well as on the other residents.

Truly,

Citizen Audreyanna

Thomas



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