In 2012 alone, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) received approximately 400 complaints from various communities as it relates to the pollution issue.
These complaints however, do not include the infractions which the EPA would have detected.
At present, the only recourse for the EPA is to take these individuals to court. However, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Guianas today signed a $4M one-year co-financing grant agreement with the Ministry of Natural Resources and EPA that will contribute to the development of Agency’s Environmental Protection Compliance and Enforcement Regulations in support of the Environmental Protection Act No. 11 of 1996.
Environment Minister, Robert Persaud told reporters that these regulations will assist the EPA in dealing with the perpetrators directly, by instituting fines and seizing their equipment when they are in breach of their permits.
The Act provides for Prosecutions in a court of summary jurisdiction in respect of offences under the Act, but not the power of arrest, issue warrants or charges.
According to Minister Persaud, the court process is drawn out and too costly for the EPA. As such, the Ministry’s EPA in partnership with WWF-Guianas has embarked on a short-term project to develop compliance and enforcement regulations, which is expected to strengthen the EPA’s capacity for the management of environmental and social impacts of development activities in all economic sectors of Guyana, including the mining sector.
The project specifically involves contracting a Legal Expert to develop the Compliance and Enforcement Regulations, and to provide a sensitization training session with Officers of the Agency and relevant national stakeholders in the use of the legal instrument.
The co-financing is being provided under WWF Guianas Gold Mining Pollution Abatement programme.