EPA completes First Phase of the North Brazil Shelf Large Marine Ecosystem (NBSLME) project at Wellington Park Mangrove Reserves

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On Friday 26, 2021, the Agency hosted a simple closing meeting for the NBSLME project with community members of Wellington Park at the EPA's Whim, Berbice Office. The event marked the successful completion of the first phase of the NBSLME project which entailed the mapping of key stakeholders and developing a Management Plan as it relates to restoring the Wellington Park Mangrove Reserves. In attendance were the twelve (12) community members who worked closely with the Agency in drafting the management plan and a governance framework.

The Management Plan provides key targets and indicator for restoring the site and the governance structure looked closely at engaging key stakeholders with responsibilities for mangrove governance in Guyana. The Coastal Marine Management Committee (CMMC) will serve as the overarching body to govern the site since all stakeholders responsible for mangroves sit on the Committee. Additionally, the Plan provides roles for community members in working towards achieving the goal of transforming the site into an eco-tourism destination.

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The Environmental Protection Act, Cap. 20:05, bestows investigative and enforcement powers upon Officers of the EPA

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In executing the functions of the Environmental Protection Agency, there are several powers and protections conferred on authorised officers of the Agency while conducting investigations under the Act. Officers of the EPA are empowered to enter premises at any reasonable time to investigate any potential adverse effects on the environment and human health. Examinations and investigations by officers may be accompanied by the use of equipment or materials required to conduct assessments, measurements, testing, monitoring or to otherwise collect evidence such as photographs and environmental samples. The Act also empowers officers to dismantle and/or detain any article which may have caused or is likely to cause pollution of the environment.

Officers also have the right to require the production of statements, declaration of truths, and any records or documentation relevant to the investigation, including electronic data. Persons may also be required to afford such facilities and assistance to officers of the EPA necessary to facilitate the conduct of the investigation or examination. Moreover, officers are protected from civil or criminal liability for executing any of these functions in good faith under reasonable grounds. However, any interference, hindrance, assault or obstruction of an officer during the execution of his duty is an offence punishable by a fine of as much as three hundred thousand dollars ($300,000). Members of the public are therefore encouraged to ensure the authority of officers of the EPA are respected and maintained at all times; failing which, there may be legal consequences.

World Wetlands Day 2021

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World Wetlands Day prize winner

Wetlands are areas where water covers the soil, or is present either at or near the surface of the soil all year or for varying periods of time during the year, including during the growing season. World Wetlands Day is celebrated internationally each year on February 02. This year, World Wetlands Day was celebrated under the theme “Wetlands and Water”.  This year also marks the momentous 50th anniversary of the signing of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands.

Guyana is fortunate to have both coastal and inland wetlands in all ten (10) administrative regions. These wetlands filter water, prevent flood and help in soil erosion control. For many persons, wetlands were once thought of as useless swamps. But now, we know they are home to abundant fish and wildlife, as well as a valuable natural resource. To observe World Wetlands Day, the EPA planned activities to raise awareness and encourage action.

Along with our weekly newspaper articles, officers of the Agency were interviewed on Guyana Today (NCN Channel 11), highlighting the importance of wetlands and informing the public about planned activities, which included an Instagram exclusive quiz. This activity saw five (5) winners emerging, most of whom were from Region Four. This quiz encouraged persons to do research on wetlands and increased the number of followers on the Agency's Instagram account.

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The Environmental Annual Report - An Important Record/Account of Environmental Compliance

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The Annual Report is a once-per-year document that is mandatory for many organizations and a powerful tool for many more. While it can be tedious to assemble, it’s incredibly important. This single piece of communication presents a wealth of information about your organization to many different audiences. How those readers engage with that content affects their perceptions of your business in significant ways. (Wright, 1975)

The Environmental Protection Agency issues each project with an Environmental Authorization (Permits) to both new and existing projects. As part of the Permit conditions, the developer/ Permit holder is bound by the Section Compliance, Monitoring and Reporting of the Permit which states “Submit Environmental Annual Report to the EPA on or before March 31 every year on your compliance with this Permit”.  The purpose of this Environmental Annual Report is to inform the Agency formally whether the developer / Permit holder is compliant with the site-specific conditions set out in the Permit. Another document that is submitted along with the Environmental Annual Report, particularly for gas stations and mining operations is the water quality analysis results. The results of this analysis are very important as it informs the Agency, if the operation is releasing any harmful pollutant into surrounding waterways which can harm aquatic life and persons consuming the water.  When reviewing the Environmental Annual Report special attention is given to areas such as waste management, noise management, hazardous waste/ material management (specifically spills that may occurred in the environment), and compliance monitoring and reporting.  

Failure to submit Annual Reports is an offense for which the penalty is a maximum fine of eighty thousand dollars ($80,000), in accordance with Regulation 7(3) of the Environmental Protection (Authorizations) Regulations 2000. Further, failure to comply with the terms and conditions of the Operation Permit constitutes a breach of the Environmental Protection Act, Cap. 20:05, Laws of Guyana, which makes you liable to the penalties prescribed, including fines and imprisonment, as well as, other enforcement action: the suspension of your Environmental Authorization or the closure of your operation.