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Apr 23, 2015

Environmentalists Claim Communications Deficit

Tanya Williams

Recently, the Department of Environment, in partnership with three international organizations, hosted an Oil Spill Contingency Workshop that addressed issues such as oil pollution, preparedness, and response and cooperation sensitization workshop. But according to the consultants, Belize is not prepared as there are too many risks involved. According to environmentalists, there appears to be lack of communication between the Prime Minister and the Ministry of Energy.

 

Tanya Williams, Executive Director, Coalition to Save Our Natural Heritage

“Yesterday, the World Heritage Committee actually released a statement saying that they are going to be working with the government on a three-year plan and that plan should address oil concessions in Belize. We have to now push to ensure that we see that three-year plan because we don’t know what that plan will look like. We know what we have recommended to them, but we don’t know what that plan will look like. I know what the government is recommending to them is that they put buffers around the marine protected areas, which makes up the world heritage sites, which makes no sense. When you think about it, it is not land, where you can put up a block and say I am going to block off oil if there is an oil spill. The marine environment is so dynamic that you can’t block it off, so a buffer does not work. When we did our buffer system, when we applied a buffer, it actually blocked off the whole entire offshore. So it will be interesting to see what is being recommended.”

 

Janelle Chanona

Janelle Chanona, Vice President, OCEANA Belize

“The government of Belize, via the Prime Minister’s comments to the delegation, was that a roadmap charting the way forward to make sure that he key threats outlined in that visit will be embarked upon. So again, how does the Ministry of Energy reconcile the draft guidelines that they’ve shared with those types of initiatives?”

 

On Wednesday, the eve of today’s press conference, the Ministry of Energy sent a letter to OCEANA Belize saying that they had received the research data and commends and that they will meet. It didn’t, however, say where, when or how. 

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