Latest update March 27th, 2023 12:59 AM
Feb 07, 2023 News
Kaieteur News – As ExxonMobil winds down a series of consultations across the country, one thing has become clear- that the process was used only as a tool to tick boxes for the operator.
Shadow Natural Resources Minister, David Patterson in an interview with this newspaper on Sunday said that he was unable to attend any of the sessions hosted as there was only one meeting held in Region Four. That session was facilitated last Thursday at the Umana Yana in Kingston, Georgetown during the consideration of Budget 2023 Estimates.
During the meeting, several questions asked, were unanswered. Importantly, a critical subject raised during the meeting was insurance for the sixth project. The Projects Manager for ExxonMobil Guyana, Anthony Jackson said he was not able to give a response but knows that the company will not leave if there is an oil spill incident.
Patterson believes that this response was out rightly disrespectful. “If they had any respect for the Guyanese, they would have walked with the full team because these are the questions they know would come up.”
Turning his attention to the other consultation hosted at Leonora, Region Three, the former Minister of Public Infrastructure said that he was appalled at the response given by Jackson again when questioned on the operations’ impact to marine life and fish in particular.
The Projects Manager had said given the depths at which the oil company is operating, the type of fish that is consumed cannot be affected there.
He said, “the water depth that you have and the depths that we are (carrying out our operations), if you have ever looked at National Geographic or Discovery Channel, when they go deep sea and they got to put the lights on to see down there, the type of fish that you encounter at those depths, one: it is very sparse and two: are not the type of fish you and I would eat. In fact when you bring those fish to the surface they often disintegrate…so the activities at the bottom of the ocean where the water-depth is deep my personal thought is that it’s not gonna have that much impact.”
To this end, Patterson argued, “That is an insult, I think, to Guyanese people. That is like saying listen to me; Guyanese don’t eat mutton so therefore you shouldn’t care what happens to the sheep. The answer is not what fish we consume or what damages, their responsibility is no environmental damage not if we eat the fish or not.”
The Shadow Minister of Natural Resources was also keen to point out that these organisms are critical to the food chain and would therefore have an impact on the fish Guyanese depend on.
“Everything is connected so Exxon cannot destroy the environment and then say that it doesn’t harm Guyanese because we don’t eat the food that they destroyed or we don’t use the timber that they cut down and those things. That I think is very insulting and this is the first time I am hearing something like that,” he added.
Moreover Patterson pointed out that ExxonMobil through its operator, Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Limited (EEPGL) had warned in its Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) conducted to date that fish will be impacted due to the discharges from the oil and gas activities.
On the other hand, he reasoned, “This is not a new industry. This has been around for 150 years or so and in every district that is why they put in regulations on the treatment of wastewater because over the years they have found that it has done some amount of damages to the environment.”
As such, he reasoned, “It is like if you say to a Guyanese oh we only used a drop of cyanide in your water and it will dissipate and it won’t affect you. That is very irresponsible. They are trying to say that the amount of pollutants that they are putting in the ocean is not large enough to kill the fish or so but the position is that they are not supposed to be putting anything pollutants whatsoever in our waters.”
Patterson said he was unfortunately unable to attend the Georgetown consultation hosted by Exxon due to his Parliamentary responsibilities.
According to him, “They are doing these things so, I won’t say wickedly so nobody can attend. They were supposed to have several in town but they are just whitewashing this consultation just for formality because we know that EPA will give them the approval so they are just going through formality saying that they are consulting us and then they send someone to say oh that is not my area of expertise. I can’t answer that particular question.”
They are being paid while we are being played…your pain is their gain!
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