Chemical company Nalco Champion moves operations to Trinidad


Nalco Champion- the company which is contracted to supply chemicals to supply the Floating Production Storage Offloading (FPSO) vessels, offshore Guyana –has moved its initial operations to Trinidad and Tobago.

This is due to the company’s inability to adhere to “restrictive” measures put forward by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in time for its operations to begin here.

According to Executive Director of the EPA, Dr. Vincent Adams, the company informed the agency of its decision on Friday last.

Executive Director of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Dr. Vincent Adams

“They came back on Friday to say those conditions are too restrictive so they can’t operate,” Dr. Adams told the media on the sidelines of an Operational and Environmental Safeguards forum at the Marriott Hotel in Georgetown on Monday.

The News Room learnt that the company informed John Fernandes Limited of its decision on the same day.

Nalco Champion Guyana had applied to the EPA for permission to set up a Chemical warehouse facility at the John Fernandes Ltd. Inland Terminal at 4055 Industrial site, Ruimveldt, Georgetown.

The notice was published in local newspapers on July 03, 2019 and evoked protests from residents of Houston Gardens, Shirley Field-Ridley Square, Roxanne Burnham Gardens, Guyhoc Park and Banks Park which are located around the area.

The residents raised concerns in relation to the effects of the chemicals on the environment and contended that the location was not earmarked for industrial purposes but rather residential purposes.

The EPA did not complete an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for that location.

As the first Floating Production Storage Offloading (FPSO) vessel arrived in Guyana on August 29, the company requested a permit to operate from the John Fernandes Wharf at Water Street, Georgetown, according to the EPA Executive Director.

The company was issued a permit to operate from that location, which is an area zoned for industrial operations.

However, Dr. Adams said the EPA requested that Nalco Champion Guyana satisfy three conditions. Those conditions were: to ensure good mitigative actions are in place in case of an accident, submit an Environmental Impact Assessment document and garner the Guyana Fire Service’s support to be available at all time to deal with any incident which may arise.

Dr. Adams believed the EPA “bent over backwards” to accommodate the company, insisting that the requirements were reasonable.

“I think they are reasonable and they’re a minimum expectation but they made their decision and I have no control over that. This agency works in the interest of the people of this nation; they work in the interest of their company,” he said.

“They made their decision for their company and I made the decision for the protection of the people of this nation,” he added.

The News Room learnt that the company has not ruled out returning to Guyana once it receives favourable responses from local authorities. However, it was explained that the company is running out of time to begin operations and had to move to Trinidad in the interim.

According to the Project summary, some of the chemicals which the company will be handling are Methanol, Xylene, Asphaltene Inhibitor, Corrosion Inhibitor and Emulsion Breaker will have to be transferred to the supply boat.

The company organised a meeting on July 19 at the New Guyana School to address the concerns of residents who raised their complaints, but they did not attend.

There, the company managers likened the chemicals to substances used by most Guyanese. It compared methanol to rubbing alcohol, xylene to paint thinner, asphaltene to gasoline and emulsion breaker to diesel.

As it relates to transport and safety of the movement of chemicals, it was stated that an escort could have been provided by the Guyana Police Force for the 53ft trailers; these would have made about 6-8 trips per week.

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