The Civil Defence Commission (CDC) along with other stakeholders have embedded several provisions in Guyana’s draft National Oil Spill Contingency Plan which ensures the polluter pays for any spill that is discovered.
In fact, the draft plan that was perused by Kaieteur News notes that the polluter will cover costs that range from product loss, clean-up measures and restoration. Where funds are found to be insufficient, Guyana would then cover same and ensure that it is reimbursed by the polluter.
In cases where costs of clean-up exceed the limited liability of the owner of the ship, the draft plan notes that Guyana would make a claim to the International Oil Pollution Compensation Fund in accordance with the 1992 protocol of the Convention on the Establishment of an International Compensation Fund for Oil Pollution damage.
Further to this, the draft plan states that oil spill response drills would be held annually to ensure local teams are always in a state of readiness. Kaieteur News understands that this training would be monitored by the Regional Marine Pollution Emergency, Information and Training Centre (REMPEITC), which was established in 1995.
The entity is largely funded by the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). It exists to assist countries in the wider Caribbean region to prevent and respond to pollution in the marine environment through developing and assessing national and multilateral contingency plans, training and workshops, technical support and consultancy, and public awareness.
At the recent opening of a workshop for final consultations on the draft plan, CDC Head, Colonel Kester Craig noted that comments from participating agencies such as the Finance Ministry, Coast Guard, Guyana Fire Service, Energy Department, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), will be incorporated into the draft plan along with those received from the International Monetary Organization. It would then be presented to Cabinet for review by November 1.
Speaking to the years of planning that went into the final document, Colonel Craig reminded that the first draft of the National Oil Spill Contingency Plan was developed by the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) in collaboration with the US Coast Guard. This draft, he said, was later updated by the Maritime Administrative Department to incorporate guidelines from the International Maritime Organization and other international standards.
In January of this year, Colonel Craig said that the Civil Defence Commission (CDC) established the National Oil Spill Contingency Planning Working Group with the aim of ensuring that focused attention was given to the review, updating and finalizing of the National Oil Spill Contingency Plan, as well as the establishment of the systems which would be outlined in the plan to ensure effective and efficient oil spill management in Guyana.
Expounding further, Colonel Craig said that membership of the Working Group comprised of representatives from Civil Defence Commission, Environmental Protection Agency, Guyana Energy Agency, Maritime Administrative Department, Guyana Geology and Mines Commission, Department of Energy and the Guyana Defence Force’s Coast Guard. He said that this Working Group met on a weekly basis for a period of about five months. He said that the diligence of this Working Group is what led to the development of an updated draft plan, which he hopes will be finalized by October 31.
Further to this, the CDC Head said that the draft contingency plan outlines critical roles and responsibilities for agencies in oil spill response both onshore and offshore. He also said that the CDC has been identified as the Competent National Authority for Oil Spill Management, and as such, has overall responsibility for response to oil spill emergencies.
Craig stressed that it is the CDC which has the authority to make and implement decisions to mitigate the impacts of oil spill. As for the Maritime Administrative Department, he said that this government body has been named the National Focal Point for an offshore spill, while the Guyana Energy Agency will be looking at onshore activities, and, in turn, will have responsibilities for co-ordinating the operational response, including the establishment of relevant Operations Centres in the event of a spill.
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