Jun 16, 2022 News
– petition EPA to recall impact study, consult with villagers
Kaieteur News – Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Limited (EEPGL), commonly referred to as ExxonMobil Guyana, is seeking construct a pipeline to transport gas from the Liza Fields in the Stabroek Block to the Wales development site on the West Bank of Demerara. Importantly, the developer of this gas line, which will pass through communities such as Crane and the Canal Polders have not consulted with the villagers who will be directly impacted.
This is according to a letter sent to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in which more than a dozen residents complained that they were not consulted. Only on Tuesday, a resident who lives in Crane told Kaieteur News that as she was preparing to go to work, she observed the lands being cleared and suspected it was to facilitate the pipeline. She said she had no clue that the structure would be situated so close to her property.
In the company’s Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) submitted to the EPA, ExxonMobil signaled that some land owners in Crane, Canal Number One and Canal Number Two, in Region Three may not be allowed to grow crops or develop new structures that may interfere with the pipeline to be laid.
The document said that one residential property within the planned onshore pipeline route about 175 meters south of the shore crossing may have to relocate, along with four other dwellings located within 500 meters of the heavy haul road and temporary materials offloading facility (MOF).
EEPGL was keen to note that the government is responsible for Project-related land acquisition but the company will support the administration in developing and implementing a ‘Resettlement and Livelihood Restoration Strategy’ aligned with “international standards”.
When it comes to land use, the oil company explained that the project may result in a change of land ownership or tenure for all or part of a property, parcel, or land use area. It explained that a 12.2 meter wide permanent right of way (ROW) will be established to aid in operation and maintenance of the onshore pipeline.
As such, any land that falls within the permanent ROW will be frozen. The document did not say how many homes will be affected by this ROW.
The ROW, according to the EIA crosses populated areas in the vicinities of Crane, Canal One, and Canal Two. Already, the residents of the Canal Polders have informed the EPA that they were not consulted with by the developer.
Villagers from Crane are now claiming too that Exxon has not held any consultations with them, prior to the development of the EIA. In their letter to the EPA Executive Director, Kemraj Parsram, the villagers said “we the residents of Crane an area through which the proposed pipeline runs were not consulted at any time before the submission of the EIA and EIS (Environmental Impact Statement) for the gas-to-energy project. This is a fundamental breach of our rights and those under (the) Environmental Protection Act Section 11(9) along with a breach of the principles of internationally recognized consultations practices.”
As such, the Crane villagers called on the EPA to suspend the 60 days comments period that was opened, after the EIA was submitted. They also told Mr. Parsram that the EIA should be nullified, due to the lack of consultations on the proposed pipeline, in addition to the other concerns that were previously raised by other citizens.
The Environmental Protection Act clearly states at Section 11(9) “During the course of the environmental impact assessment, the developer and the person carrying out the environmental impact assessment shall (a) consult members of the public, interested bodies and organizations; (b) provide to members of the public on request, and at no more than the reasonable cost of photocopying, copies of information obtained for the purpose of the environmental impact assessment”.
Exxon’s EIA was prepared by a United Kingdom Consultancy firm, Environmental Resources Management (ERM). The group said in the document that 11 in-person public scoping consultations took place in Regions One to Six, and two virtual public scoping consultation meetings. In addition, 36 representatives from the Neighbourhood Democratic Councils (NDCs) in Region Three were engaged while 150 businesses in Regions Three and Four were surveyed along with 370 individuals in Region Three during the 2021 socioeconomic household surveys, including 122 individuals categorised as members of vulnerable groups.
Importantly, in volume three of the EIA, the Consultant explained that “key informant stakeholders that have been engaged to date include, but are not limited to: African Culture Development Association, Association of Trawler Owners and Seafood Processors, Big Bird & Sons Fishing Complex (Charity), Bureau of Statistics, Centre for Local Business Development (CLBD), Conservation International (CI), Department of Tourism, Fishing Cooperatives (e.g., Lima Fishermen’s Development Co-op, Georgetown Fishermen’s Co-op Society Ltd., Parika Fishermen’s Development Co-op, etc.), Georgetown-based real estate agents, Guyana Geology and Mines Commission, Guyana Hindu Dharmic Sabha,” and a number of other organisations. It, however, made no mention of engaging communities that will be impacted by the project.
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