Nov 20, 2021 Editorial
Kaieteur News – More and more, we ask ourselves whether this oil wealth will not be the death of us. Instead of being a lifesaver, this oil and the way it is being managed by all, locals and foreigners, confirm that it is not the lifesaver for Guyana that it should have been, but a death dealer, in ways that now register daily. We point to one of the latest developments, as carried by this paper: “Rush to approve 4th oil project – Yellowtail … Exxon reports says, Toxic waste will increase pressure on limited capacity of local treatment facilities” (KN November 8). They are now in the developing and solidifying stages of those local facilities, and here comes Exxon and others from the expanding oil sector to stretch capacity still more.
It seems that the weights of this newly discovered oil keep coming everyday and squeezing the life out of us. Our leaders now make a living, and we believe a killing, going around and trumpeting all the positives surrounding the nation’s oil wealth. Without a doubt, they are positives, and they must not be ignored, or left to gather cobwebs on the rafters. But spoken of from the rafters, so all could hear what is in store for Guyanese. By the same token, it is our position that the many and costly negatives are too often obscured, or left unattended, as if they did not exist, and belong to some other place and its peoples.
We hear of riches, but we do not hear of the possible downside correlation to the diminishing catch of our fisherfolk, who are ‘catching hell’ to use their exact words, since they can’t even cover their expenses. Is any leader listening to them? Is there any leader caring about them, and the prospects of them and their families? Exxon’s reports note that it is cheaper to dump produced water overboard, instead of the lesser evil of re-injecting it. The lovely turn of phrase selected by Exxon’s spin-masters in their report was “economically inferior.” Again, who is there around here that cares, in the mad rush to riches for themselves and their own?
Today, we learn from Exxon’s own report of the stress that will be placed by toxic waste on our local treatment facilities. The first question is why are we hearing this warning from Exxon? Why is Exxon informing us and not our own people? Why is our own EPA, and our Vice President, not in front of this and putting it in front of us first? We react to this latest instance of the Guyanese public being notified of something like this by outsiders, and inquire why our own elected President and his all-powerful and all-knowing Vice President have been deficient and derelict in their obligations to Guyanese? Why is neither presenting the whole picture of the many known and unknown in our ballooning oil sector businesses, other than the upsides?
We are paying Exxon for everything, now we are paying for the company and its corporate companions to dump toxic waste products in our already limited Haags-Bosch facility. This chatter about opening of cells and related timelines only go so far, mean so much. What is noteworthy is that the 6-7 percent toxic waste figure destined for local facilities is a fairly robust number, and has the potential to be understated, in the manner of corporations that tend to minimise the negatives. Thus, it is likely to grow, to be a greater number and, regardless of the percentage, we are talking of toxic waste that is hazardous.
This is part of the oil legacy to be left, experienced, and paid for by locals. It will be paid for in different ways. More cells of land and acceptable use means expanded space, especially with expanded production on the cards. There is, however, a greater legacy not spoken of currently. The one from products of the sea, and that from pressured land facilities, both of which could afflict cells in the bodies of Guyanese.
We have issues with our own daily/weekly collection and disposal of non-hazardous materials. Finances, equipment, political differences, community alarms. Do we need more? Could we absorb the toxic wastes planned to be dumped on land?
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