There has been significant focus on how Guyana needs to safeguard the oil money that is coming its way, but what about the protection that is needed for the Marine Environment? This is one of the salient questions Environmentalist, Annette Arjoon-Martins, has been asking herself after taking note of the actions of the government and the oil companies operating here from 2015 to now.
Arjoon-Martins is one of the many concerned citizens who has been making dedicated efforts to understand just what the Government is doing to protect the country from the effects of oil disasters. She has also been actively involved in understanding the work of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Civil Defence Commission (CDC) in completing Guyana’s National Oil Spill Contingency Plan.
In one of her most recent Facebook posts, this concerned environmental advocate bemoaned the fact the protection of the environment remains at the bottom of the ladder in the climb to prosperity. Arjoon-Martins, on her social media page, said, “…I know from decades of working in environmental protection that even when we have the best legislation, that would just be the first step up the ladder. The long climb to the top will need our regulatory institutions to be adequately resourced in order to be our ‘competent’ authorities.”
Elaborating further on this matter with the Guyana Standard, the environmentalist was quick to describe the oil companies operating offshore Guyana to be “two-faced”.
She said, “They are duplicitous in what they say they will do and what they actually do. I would like to call them out because a lot of their corporate social responsibility programmes just have propaganda value. They don’t consult with the indigenous communities…They are training people in oil spill response in a man-made lake with small jokey oil spill barriers that wouldn’t stand up in the river, much less in the ocean.”
She added, “I have been saying for two years that they need to get to Shell Beach and do the training out there in the real environment. And they have not done that up to now.”
Arjoon-Martins stressed to the Guyana Standard that even if the local authorities try to develop the best policies, monitoring the environment is still key.
“I don’t want to knock anyone, but poor [EPA Head] Dr. Vincent Adams and [CDC Head] Colonel Kester Craig, have been given baskets to fetch water. I have been doing this for 30 years and I am aware that when you have all the regulations in place that is when the real hard work starts,” the impassioned environmentalist said.