Latest update March 28th, 2023 12:59 AM
Feb 06, 2023 News
– to engage public on restarting operations at Houston
Kaieteur News – The High Court in December last year ruled that Guyana’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) breached the law to issue a permit to Schlumberger Guyana Inc. to construct a radioactive storage facility at Lot 1 Area ‘X’ Houston, East Bank Demerara (EBD), without conducting an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) first.
Judge Nareshwar Harnanan in handing down his ruling not only quashed the EPA’s decision to grant permission to the US- owned company to construct and operate the facility, but also ordered that the works at the radioactive storage facility be halted.
It would therefore mean that the company would have to go through the process as required by the Environmental Protection Act to seek permission for the operations to recommence.
However, in a notice published in one of the daily newspapers on Saturday, Schlumberger indicated that it will be engaging the public regarding the radioactive facility at Houston.
Notably, the EPA has not informed the public of an application received by the company, as required by law. This application is usually submitted with a Project Summary that serves to notify citizens of the project scope and location among others and would be the basis for discussions during planned stakeholder engagements.
Efforts made to contact the Executive Director of the EPA, Kemraj Parsram on Sunday were unsuccessful.
In the meantime, IMEX Inc. – a local environmental service provider to oil and gas companies- has indicated that it will be hosting a public stakeholder engagement on behalf of Schlumberger Guyana Inc., regarding the ‘Radioactive Source Storage and Calibration Operations’ at Houston.
To this end, the Consultant said citizens, businesses, community representatives and schools of Houston, Agricola, McDoom and D’Aguiar Park are invited to the stakeholder engagement scheduled for February 7, 2023 from 17:00hrs (5pm) to 18:30hrs (6:30pm) at Parc Rayne, Rahaman’s Park, East Bank Demerara.
Danuta Radzik, one of the applicants who won the case against Schlumberger Guyana Inc. on Sunday told this newspaper that she was surprised when she saw the advertisement in the paper as she believes this move is in contempt of the Court ruling.
Radzik explained, “We were very surprised to see the notice in the newspaper, very surprised, in fact shocked because the Judge had ruled twice that his ruling stands that the Environmental Permit for Schlumberger is cancelled, they do not have a Permit to operate and that an injunction is in place.”
She reasoned that this means the company is prohibited from operating and must move and cease operations.
The environmental activist added that when she saw the notice a few days ago, she decided to contact IMEX Inc. to understand the reason for the engagement. To her surprise, Radzik said she was told, “It was the continuation of Environmental Management Plan, so I asked them if they knew about a Court ruling because it seems since Schlumberger had ceased operations why would they be hosting a meeting because it could be considered contempt of Court. They said they will pass my concerns onto the legal department and that I should contact Schlumberger.”
She explained that back in June last year, Schlumberger hosted a consultation to engage the public on the Environmental Management Plan as there was no EIA conducted. Radzik pointed out too that an EIA cannot be done after operations would have commenced months prior.
“If you want to get an Environmental Permit from the EPA, it is set out in the EPA Act what must be done. A Project Summary has to be done which is sent to the EPA; they then issue a Notice that this body or company intends to operate in this way and the EPA has decided to waiver an EIA and therefore people who will be affected have 28 days or so to make an objection, which triggers a hearing. So Schlumberger would have to go through the entire process again,” she said.
To this end, the activist argued that the EPA upon seeing this Notice should have alerted the radioactive waste company that they have no permission to operate and are essentially closed down.
Further, she urged that the process to restart operations cannot be through IMEX conducting an Environmental Management Plan.
As such, Radzik said she will be sending a Lawyer’s letter to IMEX concerning the issue.
A senior source at the EPA told Kaieteur News yesterday that they were unaware of an application made by Schlumberger to restart operations at Houston. The officer explained that they would get the details and confirm today (Monday).
It was also explained that there is no harm in engaging the community before operations restart.
This newspaper tried reaching the landline number that was attached to the advertisement but efforts were to no avail.
On January 18, Justice Nareshwar Harnanan refused a request by Schlumberger Guyana Inc, (SGI) a major contractor for Exxon Mobil, to stay his judgment which he ruled against the EPA’s decision to allow the company to construct and operate a radioactive chemical facility at Houston, East Bank Demerara (EBD), without an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).
The court documents seen by this newspaper outlined that SGI applied to the Court for the order that the judgment of Justice Harnanan is stayed for a period of two months or alternatively for a period of 28 days so as to permit the company to remove any radioactive sources which it may have stored at its facility.
The company also asked for an order suspending the injunction granted by the Court on December 16, 2022, so as to permit SGI to receive any radioactive sources presently offshore and en route to its facility at Houston, Georgetown.
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