“I AM EXTREMELY CONCERNED THAT DESPITE MY REQUESTS AT THE SCOPING MEETING IN THE BEGINNING OF THIS YEAR FOR THE MOST BASIC ACTIONS TO BE TAKEN THAT WE ARE ENDING THE YEAR ALMOST AS WE HAVE STARTED OTHER THAN SOME PLATITUDES ABOUT INTENTION”–ENVIRONMENTALIST, ANNETTE ARJOON
ExxonMobil is still to carry out real evaluations about how its operations offshore Guyana can impact the environment and possibly bring great harm to locals. Even more alarming, the company is yet to even meet with Guyana’s indigenous people living in areas within Region One.
These people are most likely to be affected. Nevertheless, the government and its agencies continue to give full support to the oil giant.
Environmentalist, Annette Arjoon remains concerned about this reality.
During an exclusive interview with Kaieteur News yesterday, Arjoon recalled that she highlighted the need for more work to be done by ExxonMobil since the beginning of 2018. She said that it is quite unfortunate that just about a year has passed and things remain the same.
Arjoon said that in January 2018, there was an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) scoping meeting at the Guyana Pegasus Hotel. ExxonMobil’s main principals were present and also made presentations on Liza Phase 2.
Arjoon recalled that during the question and answer segment, she listed several concerns which included that there had been no stakeholders’ consultations with the communities in Region One.
Arjoon said that at the forum, she made mention of the fact that Guyana’s only coastal protected area—the Shell Beach Protected Area—exists in Region One and ExxonMobil’s own oil spill modeling had shown its North Western tip would be impacted in the event of an oil spill reaching the shoreline.
Arjoon told this newspaper, “I also made it clear that the several ‘demonstrations’ on oil spill response which were being held at Splashmin’s on the glasslike surface of their manmade lake was the polar opposite of the dynamic conditions in the Atlantic Ocean off Shell Beach.”
The Environmentalist recommended that there should be several well planned and meaningful consultations with the communities in Region 1 and even identified the primary communities of Smith’s Creek, Morawhanna, Kachikamo, St Johns, Lower Waini and Almond Beach.
“These are the communities that would be most impacted in the event of an oil spill I asked that the consultations and training should commence with them.”
Arjoon said that she asked that fit for purpose equipment be deployed within the region where the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) and Coast Guard has a presence in Mabaruma; and, Morawhanna respectively and our GPF off the Waini Point.
Nevertheless, Arjoon said that other than a very short visit to Mabaruma in early February for the scoping meeting required by the EPA which was immediately followed by another meeting referred to as an oil spill consultation, there has been no further activity specific to oil spill awareness, capacity to respond nor drills in a fit for purpose environment.
She said that there were visits by two local consulting companies for specific corrective environmental activities which were found to be deficient in the Liza 1 Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and were mandated by EPA.
Arjoon said, “I am extremely concerned that despite my requests at the scoping meeting in the beginning of this year for the most basic actions to be taken, that we are ending the year almost as we have started other than some platitudes about intention.”
She continued, “I believe in actions speaking for themselves where these still outstanding consultations and training in Region One are concerned. As a matter of fact, I had also advised that the Amerindian People’s Association has decades of experience, vast networks and capacity in Region 1 to partner in the consultations.”
However, Arjoon said that from her last check, the Association was never contacted.
The Environmentalist said, “I have just returned from the inaugural Blue Economy Conference in Kenya thanks to the support of Canada, Japan and the UNDP and the exposure has strengthened my resolve to increase my advocacy for the necessary safeguards and protection of our marine environment and the coastal communities whose livelihoods are interlinked with its well being.”
Furthermore, Arjoon pointed out that Guyana is less than two years to first oil but the national oil spill contingency plan remains a draft as it has been for almost two years.
Arjoon said, “The completion of this would be when the real hard work starts to ensure there is capacity for compliance. I am particularly disturbed at the ratings of impacts on our marine life in Exxon’s Liza 2 EIA which in most cases are negligible or moderate.”
She continued, “My reason being that there has been no research of these resources so what baseline is being used? How can we measure impact in the absence of a baseline? Furthermore, how can we value what we know nothing of?
“How can we manage or monitor what we have not yet measured? In the absence of answers and corrective actions I wish to advocate that the two indigenous communities at the beginning and end of our Shell Beach Protected Area namely the Almond Beach and Fathers Beach be immediately engaged as their traditional knowledge of their resources can be a starting point to build a baseline of the 100 km stretch of coastline which is protected.
To build their capacity in community monitoring could be an achievement we can report on by the end of 2019 a few months away from first oil and all it will bring.”
May 11, 2021By Sean Devers Guyana Olympic Association (GOA) President K. Juman Yassin says, should Guyana female T20 Cricket team qualify for next year’s Commonwealth Games, scheduled for England between the...
May 10, 2021
May 10, 2021
May 10, 2021
May 09, 2021
May 09, 2021
Freedom of speech is our core value at Kaieteur News. If the letter/e-mail you sent was not published, and you believe that its contents were not libellous, let us know, please contact us by phone or email.
Feel free to send us your comments and/or criticisms.
Contact: 624-6456; 225-8452; 225-8458; 225-8463; 225-8465; 225-8473 or 225-8491.
Or by Email: [email protected] / [email protected]