In 2015, Chartered Accountant and former Auditor General, Anand Goolsarran, was contracted by the former regime to conduct a forensic audit into the state of affairs at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The transparency advocate had exposed that the agency is without half of the core staff it needs as well as the fundamental equipment to conduct basic tests for pollution. But five years after the rule of the APNU+AFC party, that state of affairs remains virtually unchanged. Disclosing this state of affairs recently was former Head of the EPA, Dr. Vincent Adams. His services were terminated a few days ago by the PPP/C Government.

During his time there, Dr. Adams said that he tried in some ways to improve the conditions at the agency. The former EPA Head said for example that the regulatory body was without an engineer. After learning this, the official said that he had set up an entire unit for these professionals in 2018 and hired four of them. He said that the EPA now has engineers in mining and geological engineering which he believes is a good start.

With reference to the forensic audit report, Dr. Adams recalled that the EPA was required to have at the least, 263 professionals on board. “It was only at 90 something people when I got there. Well, now we brought it up to 120. So this year’s budget was for us to go up, I was gonna propose for us to take it up to 200 and then the next year, to 300,” the former Head said.

Further to this, the petroleum engineer bemoaned the fact that the EPA is without its own laboratory. He added, “…We do not have any measuring equipment so if anyone calls and says that ‘I have a problem with pollutants,’ we have no way of going out there and measuring… And this would be for air samples for example, and water sampling etc. So the EPA has a list of equipment that is in the 2020 budget to purchase but the COVID-19 pandemic again just got into the way so hopefully next year the agency can get what it needs.”

With the EPA having its responsibilities expanded by the emergence of the oil sector, Dr. Adams said that his advice to the government would be to ensure that the EPA gets the resources it needs to be a robust regulator.
He concluded, “Because of oil, this economy is expected to quadruple in the next four or so years. And if you think we are not going to have environmental issues, you’ve got something else coming because, in the industry, there is going to be all kinds of chemicals we never had any experience with and it is all going to hit us.

“And guess where they all want to be located? Around the populated areas, Georgetown and on the river and that’s where you gonna be vulnerable to spills as well as pollution of the air…So it is critical that the EPA is boosted as quickly as possible.”


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