This week we will look at the external links we developed over the past year and our plans for 2017. One of the first links we developed this year was with our fellow NGOs.
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EMA serves two notices to Petrotrin
The Environmental Management Authority (EMA) has served Petrotrin with two notices of violations for environmental breaches arising out of the oil spill affecting the south-western peninsula. Yesterday, the EMA, via a media release, said it had served two notices of violations on Petrotrin for breaches of the Environmental Management Act Chapter 35:05 in response to the recent oil spills along the south-west coastline. It said there were different phases of action to be initiated to deal with the violations.
“The first phase treats with disaster response, and such efforts are ongoing and will continue to be co-ordinated by the National Oil Spill Contingency Committee,” the release said. However, the release said the EMA, in consultation with the inter-ministerial committee, “will now be initiating the second phase of activities to allow for assessment, rehabilitation and remediation work.” These assessments, the release said, could be medium to long term.
In the release, EMA chairman Dr Allan Bachan said: “Addressing non-compliance of environmental requirements is a crucial step, and over the coming days the authority will continue to monitor the impacts of this oil spill and rigorously enforce its laws through appropriate action.”
Bachan also said the legislative process would be initiated at this stage. He stressed that the “EMA maintains its steadfast commitment to environmental protection and will work assiduously to ensure proper rehabilitation and remediation of the affected surroundings.”
The EMA, according to the release, did preliminary aerial and on-the-ground assessments of all the affected sites on Saturday and further site visits are expected to be done “to obtain preliminary assessments with technical expertise from the Institute of Marine Affairs and other agencies.”
Bachan said since the initial reporting of the oil spill, “the EMA has and continues to assess the extent and gravity of environmental impact, which will inform the method/s to be employed toward the remediation or restoration of impacted sites, including the containment of any wastes, until all spilled hydrocarbon and other waste generated have been collected.” Additionally, he said, other appropriate measures as may be necessary to prevent or mitigate adverse effects on human health and the environment would be assessed.
The first of 11 oil spills was detected on December 17. Petrotrin has since suggested that sabotage led to two of them. A preliminary report on the initial spill at Pointe-a-Pierre on December 17 by a team of Petrotrin officials, however, has suggested that poor maintenence practice may have been a factor.
Communities lining the south-western coastline were severely affected by the oil spills and hundreds of fisherfolk are unable to make a living in the Gulf of Paria because of the oil spill. They have been calling on Petrotrin to meet with them and discuss compensation for their lost earnings.