– concerned residents prompted decision, happy with relocation
By Vishani Ragobeer
THE site for the proposed Waste Treatment Plant has been moved from Peter’s Hall on the East Bank of Demerara (EBD) to Little Diamond, EBD following concerns raised by residents who reside in the vicinity.
A press release from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) indicated that the Oilfield Waste Management Services (OWMS) would change the location for the proposed plant. The EPA said, “this decision was prompted by the concerns raised by residents within the project’s area of influence.”
The EPA said that it received an application from the OWMS for the construction and operation of a waste treatment plant at plot “A21” Plantation Peter’s Hall, EBD. The waste management service plans to construct “a thermal desorption waste treatment plant” which heats the waste to extract oil residue which can be reused or safely disposed of.
It was reported that the OWMS also plans to recycle the recaptured oil so that it can be used in the Liquid Mud Plant manufacturing process. The solid wastes will be used in the bitumen (asphalt) manufacturing process and in addition, no solids are expected to be sent to landfills, according to reports.
The EPA, in its release, said that it screened the project to assess its potential impacts on the environment and determined that an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) would not be required to inform its decision on whether or not to authorise the project.
The EPA published its decision on the project in a public notice on September 27, 2020, ,when the public was informed that any person who may be affected could lodge an appeal with the agency within 30 days of the notice.
An online change.org petition was started too and garnered 222 signatures. Numerous residents from Republic Park and Eccles indicated that they were against this move.
“Chemical storage facilities and waste management plants should not be located anywhere close to residential areas,” Riyad Sattur said. Another resident, Joanne Christian said, ““I live with my family in Eccles and have to deal with the stench from the Haags Bosch dump site.”
Following the announcement that the plant was being relocated, resident, Sharon Lalljee-Richard told this newspaper, “We are relieved that the site for the Waste Treatment Plant has changed. It is also a healthy sign that the EPA has chosen to ‘put people first’. This is an indication that the new management is listening and that the force of communal advocacy is alive and well in Guyana.”
The construction of the waste treatment plant, she said, would have diminished the air quality and exacerbated pre-existing challenges caused by the nearby Haags Bosch Sanitary Landfill. According to her, the communities would have been rendered “inhabitable”.
Lalljee-Richard highlighted that the ability of the residents to band together should encourage others to similarly come together and address the issues which directly affect them.
As a result of the concerns raised, the EPA placed the project on hold and engaged the OWMS on the concerns raised.
“This led to the developer opting to propose a new location for the project; the new location is more remote and is at Little Diamond, EBD,” the EPA said.
Just as before, the public notice will be published indicating the new location of the proposed project. Any member of the public who may be affected could lodge an appeal against the decision to not require an EIA for the project.
“The EPA will only proceed to authorise the project if there are no objections from the public and upon receipt of the location suitability approval from the Central Housing and Planning Authority (CH&PA),” the release said.
The September 27 notice also indicated that there was an application for the construction and operation of a “Chemical Storage and Warehouse Facility and Laydown Yard” at A3 & A4, Plantation Peter’s Hall, EBD being undertaken by Glass Holdings Inc.
According to the EPA’s recent release, the processing of that application has been placed on hold as the developer is currently considering alternative locations for this project.
According to the project summary, the facility has plans to store Asphaltene Inhibitor, Corrosion inhibitor, Biocide, Hydrate Inhibitor, Demulsifier, Chlorine Scavenger, Defoamer and Hydrate Inhibitor. The summary noted the safety features that would be placed on the storage tanks.
Lalljee-Richard related that the residents were also concerned about this facility for health and safety reasons, but also because there is unclear information. She shared her hope that the project would eventually be discontinued.