The recent flooding along coastal Guyana has affected the advancement of the National Oil Spill Response Contingency Plan (NOSRCP) said Civil Defense Commission (CDC) Head, Lieutenant Colonel Kester Craig.
His revelation comes even as ExxonMobil recently announced the possibility that it could start oil lifting as early as next month. Also, Craig’s update strays from the expectation that the plan should have been presented to Cabinet on November 1, 2019 – four days ago.
Craig said that there is a shortage of staffers in the office at the CDC as manpower had to be redirected to the response to the recent high tides and consequent flooding. With staffers otherwise occupied, Craig said that the plan could not have been completed.
“I don’t know if you’ve been following what has been going on in our country over the last three weeks…But we had to send our staff into the fields. So, we have limited staff…We did not get to include the comments from the consultations,” he said.
Nevertheless, Craig expressed optimism that the plan will be presented to Cabinet “soon” for its perusal.
The first draft of the National Oil Spill Contingency Plan was developed by the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) in collaboration with the United States (US) Coast Guard. The draft was later updated by the Maritime Administrative Department (MARAD) to incorporate guidelines from the International Maritime Organization and other international standards.
In January of this year (2019), the CDC established the National Oil Spill Contingency Planning Working Group to review, update and finalize the draft as well as the establishment of the systems which would be outlined in the plan to ensure effective and efficient oil spill management in Guyana.
Membership of the Working Group comprised representatives from the CDC; the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); the Guyana Energy Agency (GEA); the Maritime Administrative Department (MARAD); the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC); the Department of Energy (DOE); and the Guyana Defence Force (GDF)’s Coast Guard.