Jan 06, 2021 News
Kaieteur News – The fact that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is not requiring an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) be conducted for the proposed construction and operation of a waste treatment (Bioremediation) facility at Friendship, East Bank Demerara, is cause for major concerns for the residents there.
Kaieteur News had reported that mud sludge, generated from activities in the oil and gas sector, would have been processed at a facility expected to be constructed by Environmental Waste Management Services Guyana Inc. at Lots 21 and 22 Block XXV111 Zone, Plantation Friendship, East Bank Demerara (EBD).
An EIA is regularly conducted by the EPA to evaluate the likely environmental impacts of a proposed project or development, taking into account inter-related socio-economic, cultural and human-health impacts, both beneficial and adverse.
However, the EPA in a published notice stated: “In accordance with Section 11(2) of the Environmental Protection Act, Cap 20:05, Laws of Guyana, the application for the project listed above has been screened by the agency to assess the potential environmental impacts, and it has been determined that the project will not significantly affect the environment nor human health, and is therefore exempted from the requirement for an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).”
That bit did not sit well with Friendship residents who immediately lodged concerns with the agency.
Of the main contention is the fact that the Neighbourhood Democratic Council (NDC) had no prior knowledge of the project before the December 10, 2020 notice was published in the local print media.
Another critical concern was the safeguards the EPA set in place in the event of a chemical spill.
“What methods did they use to come to the conclusion that this hazardous waste will not affect the environment and human lives? How do they plan to manage the waste? If there is a chemical spill on our road ways or water ways, how does the EPA intend to handle this situation?”
Friendship is a populated community and is close to the East Demerara Water Conservancy on one side and the Demerara River on the other.
“These are things people need to know beforehand, before a notice is published,” residents relayed to Kaieteur News.
According to the summary, the project involves receiving and transporting solid, liquid, and a combination thereof of drilling wastes to bioremediation treatment reservoirs at its proposed waste treatment facility. Bioremediation is a treatment process that uses naturally occurring micro-organisms (yeast, fungi, or bacteria) to break down, or degrade, hazardous substances into less toxic or non-toxic substances.
According to the document, the company is notified of wastes arriving at the generator’s facility (Shore base) at least 24 hours in advance. Waste received would include residues from cleaning of mud pits, shakers, and sand traps on the rig and transferring into liquid bulk tanks, tote tanks and cutting boxes and transiting these to the shore base bioremediation waste treatment facility.
Residues will include also but not limited to wash water, flush water, residues of Synthetic Oil-based Muds (SOBM), Water-based Muds (WBM), Base oil, Brine, Dry bulk (cement, barite, and silica gel).
Further, the operation will also involve the development of two treatment ponds lined with High Density Polyethylene Geomembrane liners and contained by 91.4cm berms.
In addition, four existing structures will be repaired and developed into administrative units, laboratories, storage areas and homes for caretakers. A screen will be constructed to separate the office area from the treatment ponds.
While no EIA is required for the project, the EPA is still allowing the general public a 30-day period to lodge any objections or concerns about the project.
Appeals and objections can be submitted to the Environmental Assessment Board at the EPA’s Sophia, Georgetown office. That deadline will end on Friday, January 8, 2021.
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