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Sanctions not ruled out for GNIC’s delayed reporting of chemical spill

The chemical ‘Rheduce’ which made its way into the drain outside on the Wharf’s facility 

Sanctions could possibly be taken against Guyana National Industrial Corporation (GNIC) by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for failure to report a chemical spill in a timely manner. EPA’s Senior Environment Officer, Tashana Redmon made the disclosure to the media on Wednesday at the GNIC facility on Lombard and Broad Streets in Georgetown.

According to her, a container carrying Rheduce – a chemical used as thinner – was punctured by a forklift on Tuesday. “There were conflicting timings given about when it happened. So it is roughly between 6pm and 7pm yesterday (Tuesday)” she noted. “The response action to mop up was awaited” Part of a statement from the GNIC noted on Wednesday.

A bobcat being used to spread sand to the affected area

“We were informed today (Wednesday).  We received the report after nine today (Wednesday) and we got here after 10” the EPA rep continued.

“Of course I am concerned that something like this was reported hours after” Redmon told reporters while noting that permits stipulate that incidents of this nature are to be reported immediately.
 
Given that this did not occur, the Environmental Officer was unable to say if sanctions would be imposed on the company, but the agency’s legal department would be consulted.

“EPA will review the company’s procedures and speak to our legal department to determine whether sanctions will be made” she explained. Once EPA got to the site, Redmon said it realized that the discharge of the chemical had resulted in it making its way into neighbouring drains.

“Upon speaking to representatives from the company, we were informed that the chemical is Rheduce; it’s a thinner. The agency received the Material Safety and Data Sheet (MSDS) sheet and will be doing a further review and assessment of what the MSDS sheet states” she noted.

The Officer who has more than 10 years’ experience in the field said initial checks revealed that the thinner is “not highly toxic”.

In a statement on Wednesday GNIC noted that during the handling of a cargo at the terminal, a container with a chemical was rapture.

The release identified the chemical as one which is nonhazardous, non-toxic and harmless to human and marine life and noted that it was being stored in the designated area. The company said that the chemical leaked out after the rapture and lodged in a small area around the container but then the rains came and a spread of the substance.

The GNIC did confirm that the mop up exercise of the chemical was delayed. BIG Smith News Watch has been informed that the chemical was destined for use within the oil sector and the company that owns the shipment is named as Schlumberger.

GNIC noted that the spread caused a panic by the customers who were in the facility at the time resulting in the company closing down area terminal.The release noted that several actions have since been initiated to mitigate against any such re-occurrence.