Dec 28, 2018 News
By Kiana Wilburg
It appears that the activities of the mining sector are taking a toll on Guyana’s waterways. As a result the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is expected to take affirmative action against stakeholders in the sector quite soon.
This was confirmed recently by EPA Head, Dr. Vincent Adams.
During an interview with this newspaper, Dr. Adams said that he has seen “some alarming” video footage which shows the effects of the mining activities on the nation’s rivers. In this regard, he said that the EPA has to step in and take action.
The EPA Head said, “Indeed we have been looking at the oil sector and the preparations we have to make for it. But oil is not the only thing we are focusing on. We are looking at the other big sectors like mining.
“And I have been reading in the newspapers about what is happening with those rivers. It is really disturbing because the rivers are polluted to the hilt…”
Dr. Adams added, “They are highly polluted and the operators, of course, when you talk to them, they say they are within the regulations.
But based on the videos I have seen, this is not the case… These people are dredging under river banks and you know what is happening, the rivers are changing direction…This is a major problem…”
The EPA Head said that a thorough assessment of the matter will be conducted.
UPDATING RULES AND REGILATIONS
Dr. Vincent Adams told this newspaper that he intends to take affirmative action to update the entity’s rules and regulations. In fact, the Environmental Engineer said that all laws and regulations will be in order before the petroleum sector gets going.
Dr. Adams said, “There is no question when it comes to updating the laws. In fact, I have asked my staff members to get all the information on that for me on what exists today and try to baseline what we have , which includes environmental laws and regulations.
“Unfortunately, we can’t stop operations but we have to try and fill in the gaps as we go along and improve where there is need to improve because all operations have to be safe and environmentally sound.”
Dr. Adams also explained that he is working towards a list of all permits to see which ones are in compliance and those which are due for renewal. He said that this is part and parcel of the transformation to take place at the EPA.
Carlos de Regules, the founding Director of Mexico’s Agency for Security, Energy and the Environment (ASEA) is also a proponent for the EPA’s laws and regulations being reviewed and updated. Regules also called for Guyana to strengthen the overall capacity at the EPA.
He said, “Guyana has a very special and professional team at the Environmental Protection Agency and with new leadership too which is very timely. Its new head, Dr. Vincent Adams, has astounding experience in the oil and gas industry and those are a few perfect elements for success.
“I believe that Guyana is already paying some attention to the EPA but greater focus will take Guyana to where it needs to be.”
The Mexican advisor added, “The Government should not lose visibility of the EPA because it is a key element of oil and gas success. Yes, you have to get the contracts right, you have to get the bidding rounds right, but you must get safety and environmental protection right…
“And I think they (EPA) are ready for being transformed into a new and innovative institution that incorporates a new mandate for safety.”
Regules said that it is also imperative for the EPA to be able to collaborate with the newly created Department of Energy and that they are able to work together to produce an integral regulatory framework where environment and safety concerns are part of the strategic decisions being made for the oil and gas industry.
The founding Director said that Guyana’s regulator for the environment will need to have a firm understanding of the oil and gas business as well as the willingness to be robust with operators. He noted that this will come with training and Mexico is ready to help in this regard.
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