THE Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has instructed Bosai Minerals Group (Guyana) Inc to immediately commence work to clean up an oil spill that has contaminated the Demerara River and surrounding waterways and is also working out penalties against the Chinese-owned bauxite company, which has its main plant in Linden. The EPA said in a statement that it had received a report through the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) on Wednesday, March 29, 2016, regarding a report of the release of used oil into surrounding drainage waterways and the Demerara River by Bosai Minerals Group (Guyana) Inc.
The EPA said it promptly conducted an investigation on 30 March, 2016, in collaboration with the Regional Democratic Council, Region 10. The investigation sought to determine the source or cause of the incident and to identify immediate remediation requirements. Officials of Bosai, including members of the company’s Environmental Department, Health and Safety Department, and Supervisor of the Power Generation Plant, were present during the investigation.
The EPA said its investigation revealed that used oil flowed from a concrete drainage network in the compound of the Bosai Minerals Group (Guyana) Inc. leading to a nearby trench and ultimately into the Demerara River. The area containing the used oil tank has an oil-water separator in place to capture spilt oil. However, according to an official from Bosai, used oil was inadvertently released into the surface drain instead of the oil-water separator. The Environmental Department of Bosai stated that they were unaware that used oil was being released from their facility and became aware of the matter only on March 30, 2016, at approximately 11:00hrs, when it was brought to their attention. The EPA said it has instructed Bosai to immediately commence clean-up and restoration activities. Meanwhile, the EPA continues with its investigation and monitoring of the facility and clean-up exercise and is determining the penalties to be issued against the company.
Earlier this week, the Guyana Chronicle had reported that farmers in riverine communities up the Demerara River in Region 10 were calling on the relevant authorities to have the issue of oil spills in the river, creeks and waterways dealt with promptly, as they are losing their livelihoods to this environmental hazard. The oil coming from Bosai’s Kiln 14, is polluting the waterways that residents depend on for domestic purposes and, most importantly, for farming. One farmer who identified himself as Rambarrat said complaints were made to Bosai officials several times in the past, but the matter has been dealt with casually, even though he has lost thousands of dollars in crops. “This here is a normal thing, like every three months it does happen. Early last year I had this problem, and when Bosai authorities decide to come was like two weeks after, and the damage already done and I already plant back,” he revealed.
After noticing the oil in the river, Rambarrat travelled on Tuesday from Dalawala, six miles up the Demerara River, to seek the intervention of Regional Chairman Renis Morian. He described the situation as “sickening”, as the residents use the water to wash, bathe, and for other domestic purposes. As a farmer, Rambarrat said, he is seriously affected, especially during this dry weather, when water sources are already limited. Regional Chairman Morian has said that he is “fed up” with Bosai’s environmental practices, as several complaints from his office were made to the company, but the situation remains the same. “We now nurturing agriculture from a small level, and the water that the people dipping from the pan full of oil. Bosai supposed to compensate the farmers, or to do a clean-up exercise, and I am holding them guilty for that,” the Regional Chairman said. He also told this publication that Government needs to be more robust in handling environmental health issues, as these matters were brought to the attention of the Ministry of Natural Resources on several occasions.