Although the probability of an oil spill by ExxonMobil reaching the coast of Guyana is small, if one does occur, it would likely impact marine resources, air quality, and Guyanese fishermen if commercial fish and shrimp were impacted.
This was outlined in ExxonMobil’s Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). That document was prepared by EnvironmentalResources Management (ERM).
The international company noted in the 498-page document that in light of the fact that an oil spill is possible, there are several things which need to be done by the industry regulators, particularly the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
ERM said it is critical that the EPA ensures that ExxonMobil commits to regular oil response drills, simulations, and exercises, document the availability of appropriate response equipment on board the FPSO, and demonstrate that offsite equipment could be mobilized for a timely response.
It said, too, that ExxonMobil should produce its Oil Spill Modeling Plan, coastal sensitivity mapping, results of a Net Environmental Benefit Analysis, emergency preparedness and response procedures, and a wildlife response plan.
It said that EPA and other regulatory bodies should ensure that ExxonMobil has a comprehensive mitigation plan that it is reviewed regularly to ensure compliance.
EPA is also expected to monitor the implementation of an Environmental and Socioeconomic Management Plan by ExxonMobil. ERM said that this plan includes: air quality management, water quality management, waste management measures, marine ecosystems management, plans for and reports on stakeholder engagement, reports on transportation and safety management and a Preliminary End of Operations Decommissioning Plan.
The aforementioned are supposed to be done on an annual basis by the EPA. But when contacted recently to comment on their findings, this news agency was told that the entity is still in the stage of “building capacity.”
EPA Executive Director (ag), Khemraj Parsram declined to go into details with this news agency.
He said, “I am not going into details with you. What I said there, that is it. We are building capacity and the EPA will be equipped very soon to do all the things it needs to. In the meantime, we are satisfied with the compliance level of ExxonMobil. And they are doing their part.”