More con­sul­ta­tions needed for oil spill contin­gency plan -Mar­itime Safety Di­rec­tor

Stabroek News Sunday - - REGIONAL NEWS -

It will be about six more months un­til the an­nex for the Na­tional Oil Spill Contin­gency Plan is com­pleted, Cap­tain John Flo­res, Di­rec­tor of Mar­itime Safety has said, while not­ing that more stake­holder con­sul­ta­tion meet­ings are needed.

The first step to­wards de­vel­op­ing the plan was made at the first stake­holder meet­ing held in March, at the Civil De­fence Com­mis­sion (CDC) head­quar­ters. The first draft of the plan was pre­sented by Flo­res, who had ex­plained that there is a lot more “meat” that has to go into the frame­work de­vel­oped by him.

Flo­res had ex­plained that he used contin­gency plans from sev­eral Caribbean coun­tries and oth­ers when he drafted the plan, along with the In­ter­na­tional Mar­itime Or­ga­ni­za­tion’s Na­tional Ma­rine Contin­gency Plan.

He told this publi­ca­tion last week that in­put from var­i­ous stake­hold­ers is still needed and it will take about six months be­fore the an­nex can be com­pleted. He noted that the an­nex will con­tain a lot of tech­ni­cal in­for­ma­tion, in­clud­ing list­ing all the equip­ment that is presently in the coun­try.

“…There’s a lot of work that has to be done to fin­ish the an­nex. It is very tech­ni­cal work to fin­ish the an­nexes and that is why we have a lot to do,” Flo­res said, while adding that more stake­holder con­sul­ta­tion meet­ings have to be ex­e­cuted.

Be­sides the first con­sul­ta­tion meet­ing that was held in March, no other has been held and Flo­res ex­plained that he is not sure how many more are planned within the next six months. Asked why the govern­ment waited un­til 2018 to make head­way into de­vel­op­ing an oil spill contin­gency plan, he said he did not know.

In ad­di­tion to be­ing at risk due to the in­com­ing oil and gas in­dus­try, Guyana also has in­ter­na­tional obli­ga­tions due to var­i­ous con­ven­tions in­clud­ing the United Na­tions Convention on the Law of the Sea, the In­ter­na­tional Convention on Oil Pol­lu­tion Pre­pared­ness, Re­sponse and Co-op­er­a­tion (OPRC), and the In­ter­na­tional Convention for the Preven­tion of Pol­lu­tion from Ships (MARPOL), which man­dates the coun­try to have plans in place to re­spond to oil spills.

Cur­rently, there is only one piece of leg­is­la­tion that caters for oil spills, which is the En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Act. There is also no Ma­rine Pol­lu­tion act, only a draft, and Flo­res had noted that it needs to be in place so that there can be a le­gal foun­da­tion that the Na­tional Oil Spill Contin­gency Plan can stand on.

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