More consultations needed for oil spill contingency plan

-Maritime Safety Director

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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