Scores of residents of Coverden, East Bank Demerara have objected to the construction and operation of an oil and gas waste treatment plant in their community on the basis that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), has failed to conduct any proper scientific research on the adverse impacts such a facility will have on the environment.
Recently, Global Oil Environmental Services (GOES) Guyana applied to the Environmental Assessment Board (EAB) seeking permission to construct and operate the plant at Block X TE Huste, Block I, T Huste, Coverden.
The EAB has already determined that the project is exempt from an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). In accordance with Section 18(3) of the Environmental Protection Act, the EAB on Monday conducted a public hearing into all appeals submitted against the construction and operation of the waste treatment plant. Those in attendance at the two-hour Zoom hearing were residents of the community, EPA officials, the project’s developer as well as other key stakeholders.
During a presentation, an official from EPA informed the mostly irate residents that the facility does not require an EIA since it is not located in a historical or culturally important site. The official said that the closest resident is located approximately 280 metres northeast of the project. The officials also said that the transboundary effects from the project are low and will be mitigated through the transport of waste in ISO secured Fac Tanks.
Among the concerns raised by the residents during the meeting was the environmental impact of the proposed operation on the flora, fauna, and the watercourses of the East Bank of Demerara and its surrounding environs. The residents also expressed concerns over the likely adverse environmental effects that would result from the construction and operation of the waste treatment facility project.
Furthermore, the residents are also calling for information on the social impact, cultural impact, and economic impact assessments to them, as well as disaster impact assessment and demographic change impact assessment including epidemic impact assessment.
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the project informed residents that there will be numerous social benefits for them once the plant is up and running. He informed that the waste treatment facility is just one of the many projects the company intends to pursue in the community.
“Our role is to invest in any community in which we operate… If there is one thing that we do no matter where we are, is to invest in the community. This project is only one project of many that we plan on doing here in Coverden,” the official noted. Monday’s public hearing was met with heavy criticism from the residents who said that the EPA officials were ill-prepared for the meeting.
Apart from being unable to provide them with answers to many questions regarding the project, the residents called out the EPA for its poor-quality Zoom call. It is unclear whether there will be another public hearing into the appeals. But at this time, residents are calling for another meeting.
Following public hearings, the EAB said it will deliberate on the findings and prepare a report with its decision confirming or setting aside the EPA’s decision.
Last month, GOES Guyana announced that it was forging ahead with the project which will create employment for 20-30 locals.
The company noted that the aim of the facility is the responsible and safe recycling and reuse of hydrocarbons in exploration and production waste streams. GOES Guyana is a joint venture partnership between JaParts Guyana and Global Oil Management Group.