Nalco Champion Guyana, the company that is planning to construct a chemical warehouse at the John Fernandes Ltd. Inland Terminal in Georgetown, plans to meet with residents who are speaking out against the project.
The company said in a statement Monday that they will host a public meeting with residents to listen to their concerns.
The chemical facility, when completed, will be engaged in the filtration and storage of oilfield chemicals to supply the Floating Production Storage Offloading vessels, offshore Guyana.
The proposed site for the warehouse is John Fernandes Ltd Inland Terminal 4055 Industrial site, Ruimveldt, Georgetown.
Residents in neighbouring communities began protesting the project after a notice by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was published in the local newspapers on July 3, 2019, stating that the company was seeking authorization for the operation of the facility by the company.
The Company’s Warehouse Manager Eric Scott, in the statement Monday, said the safety of the environment and the communities are their top concern.
“Our people also live and work here and we recognize that our neighbours may have questions about our operations. We are committed to working with the EPA and look forward to the opportunity to share more information with the local community and address any concerns they may have regarding our operations and the safety plans we have in place,” Scott said.
The company also made it clear that there will be no manufacturing of chemicals at the site and the chemicals which will be stored are very similar to common household items including rubbing alcohol, paint thinner, along with gasoline and diesel.
The Company’s Country Readiness Manager, John Waldvogel said: “We recognize the importance of being a responsible neighbour in the community and operating in compliance with all Guyanese regulations at our proposed facility.”
The company in the statement Monday also said that though they have applied to the EPA for authorization to build and operate the facility, the EPA as part of this review, will conduct an Environmental Impact Assessment to ensure that Nalco Champion’s planned operations are safe for the community.
At the weekend residents from communities such as Houston Gardens, Roxanne Burnham Gardens, Rasville, Shirley Field-Ridley Square and D’Aguiar Park hosted a press conference to highlight their concerns.
At the press conference Ramesh Dookhoo, the current Secretary of the Private Sector Commission and resident of one of the surrounding communities said he has economic and business concerns about the construction of the chemical plant.
Mr Dookhoo noted that five beverage and food plants can be affected at D’Aguair Park and Banks DIH Ltd.
Representatives from the various communities said the EPA should reject the plans because it is not only going to affect the environment but also their health.
Residents also said that the facility will be housing a number of the chemicals which poses risk to the environment and the people.
According to the Project summary, some of the chemicals are Methanol, Xylene, Asphaltene Inhibitor, Corrosion Inhibitor and Emulsion Breaker which will have to be transferred to the supply boat.
Studies in animals show that exposure to xylene could result in changes in the liver and harmful effects on the kidneys, lungs, heart, and nervous system.
Charles Ceres, a Houston Gardens resident, said the residents in the past wrote three letters to the EPA on environmental issues which resulted from the development of the Houston area for the oil and gas industry.
Mr Ceres said the letters were all copied to the Central Housing and Planning Authority and the Mayor and City Council’s Engineering Department since the area was developed for mainly residential purposes but to date, there has been no response.
Another resident, Kathy Shuffer Ten-Pow, said zoning is the main issue because the chemical plant can affect over 15,000 persons in the city in the event of a spill.