EPA requires environmental assessments for quarry projects but not for chemical storage facilities
Guyana’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), per its April 11, 2021, public notice, has mandated that an Environmental Assessment and Management Plan be conducted for several proposed Stone Quarry Projects in the Essequibo Region.
However, when it came to the proposed chemical waste storage facilities for construction on the East Bank of Demerara, dealing directly with hazardous chemicals used in the petroleum sector, no such plan was required.
In its April 11 notice, the EPA said that in accordance with Section 11 (2) of the Environmental Protection Act, Cap 20:05, Laws of Guyana, the application for the quarry operations had been screened [by the Agency] to assess its potential environmental impacts, and it was determined they will not significantly affect the environment, “and are therefore exempt from the requirement for an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).”
A similar paragraph can be found on at least five other public notices regarding the proposed Chemical Storage and Waste Facilities. However, despite the exemption, the EPA stipulated a requirement for the EIA to be done for the quarry projects “in the interest of sound environmental management.”
“The Environmental Assessment and Management Plan will assess any possible impacts to the environment and/or human health, and detail specific mitigation measures to be undertaken to ensure that the proposed projects are implemented in an environmentally sound and sustainable manner.”
The EPA invited persons who may be affected by the proposed projects to lodge complaints with the Environmental Assessment Board within 30 days of the publication of the notice.
Regarding the chemical plants and waste storage facilities, the EPA had also cited exemption from an EIA, but did not stipulate that one still be done, as it did with the proposed quarry projects.
In any case, the EPA currently lacks the capacity to determine the effect of new chemicals from the oil and gas sector.
Such chemicals include Asphaltene Inhibitors, Corrosion inhibitors, Biocides, Hydrate Inhibitors, Demulsifiers, Chlorine Scavengers, Defoamers and Hydrate Inhibitors – all the chemicals to be used in the proposed projects.
So far, all of these projects are slated to be constructed in proximity to residential housing areas.
And while the EPA stipulate the 30-day complaint period, many residents had complained that the notice is often not widely advertised and so they miss the opportunity to table their concerns.
By that time, the projects would be given the go-ahead, leaving the residents to deal with the consequences.