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Sep 1, 2017

What’s in Government’s Oil Spill Plan?

Janelle Chanona

In environmental news, members of the Coalition to Save our Natural Heritage have written Chief Environmental Officer Martin Alegria to raise concerns on the scope of a planned consultancy intended to strengthen prevention, preparedness, and coordinated emergency response in the event of an oil spill in terrestrial, aquatic and marine environment. An outgrowth of this effort is a meeting set for next Tuesday, September fifth, to participate in an update to the country’s oil spill contingency plan. Coming on the heels of the Prime Minister’s announcement in the House of Representatives meeting on August eighteenth that as of October Belize will institute in law a moratorium on offshore oil exploration, OCEANA’s Janelle Chanona says Belizeans deserve to know where this plan is going.

 

Janelle Chanona, Vice-President, OCEANA (Belize)

“Several members of the Coalition raised that marine environment issues are featured in it, and they wanted clarification on whether this includes preparedness for oil spills in the scenario of exploration. Now that is just information; we don’t see that it is any state secret to say whether or not it will include a discussion on oil spill scenarios within oil exploration, because spills do happen even within the exploratory phases. So the lack of response from the department is disappointing; I think that needs to be something that the intention and I get that during the participation of the Belizean public that they want to be informed every step of the way. I don’t blame them for being jaded; I don’t blame them for being distrustful, given what we have as historical context. So I think it is important to maintain very active and fluid communication on this issue because people want to be engaged, and I think that is a right that should be respected.”

 

Chanona told us that members of the Coalition will be attending and participating with a view to eliciting further explanation from the Department of the Environment.

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