Apr 21, 2021 News
Despite no regulations, adequate manpower…
Kaieteur News – Guyana’s petroleum industry has led to an increasing demand for facilities which can properly store toxic chemicals and/or safely dispose of hazardous waste. In response, several businesses have applied to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for their blessings to construct chemical storage and treatment facilities.
What has left some industry stakeholders dumbfounded however is the fact that the EPA has granted approvals for some businesses without demanding Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA). This has led to concerns that the EPA may be taking a lax approach to the robust regulation required for the new industry.
Upon noting these perceptions, the EPA in its latest missive categorically stated that nothing could be further from the truth. The agency explained that all projects are assessed to determine their impact on the environment and human health. The EPA said such assessments entail evaluation of the information submitted, site inspection to validate that information and collection of baseline data. The agency also said it has a science-based screening tool developed with the assistance of an experienced consultant under a national project, which aids in ensuring its decisions are scientifically sound. The EPA assured that the screening process is in tandem with the Environmental Protection Act, Cap. 20:05 while adding that the decision is based on requirements under the Act.
In accordance with Section 11(2) of the Environmental Protection Act, where it is not clear whether a project will significantly affect the environment, the agency noted that the developer is expected to submit a summary of the project with specific information prescribed by the Act. The regulator is then required to publish its decision on whether the project will not significantly affect the environment, and therefore exempt from the requirement for an environmental impact assessment (EIA); or may significantly affect the environment and will require an EIA which is a comprehensive assessment of the potential impacts of a proposed project and the mitigation measures to address potential adverse impacts.
In cases where an EIA is not required, the agency said it requests various types of environment and social safeguards. The industry regulator said one such requirement is an Environmental Management Plan (EMP). It described this to be a tool used to ensure that undue or reasonably avoidable adverse impacts of the construction, operation and decommissioning of a project are prevented, and that the positive benefits of the projects are enhanced.
Further to this, the EPA said that an EMP is recognised as a tool that can be used to provide assurance that developers make suitable provisions for counteracting negative impacts that may occur through project implementation and operation.
It said too that an EMP captures baselines data, compliance monitoring, impact monitoring, reporting and record keeping as well as an Emergency Response Plan. With this mind, the EPA categorically stated that all chemical Storage/treatment facilities are required to develop and submit an EMP which includes, a Waste Acceptance Criteria and a Waste Management Plan.
Some of the companies which have submitted applications to construct chemical storage facilities include John Fernandes Limited, Ramps Logistics, Oilfield Waste Management Services, Environmental Waste Management Services Guyana Inc., and Glass Holdings Inc.
The most recent project awaiting approval relates to Global Oil Environment Services Guyana Inc., a joint venture partnership between JaParts Guyana and Global Oil Management Group. The partners intend to build and operate a waste transfer, storage, treatment and disposal facility in Land of Canaan, East Bank Demerara.
It should be noted that while the EPA ensures that EMPs are submitted, Guyana still remains without the regulations that are needed to underscore its robust management of the sector. Equally significant, are concerns that the agency is without the manpower to properly monitor other industries yet alone these new facilities that are coming on board for the oil sector.
(To be continued …)
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