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Feb 28, 2012

SATIIM blames US Capital Energy for Fire in Reserve

There has been long standing friction between US Capital Energy and the Sarstoon Temash Institute for Indigenous Management (SATIIM). That’s because the oil company is conducting seismic testing and has plans to drill in the Sarstoon Temash National Park, which SATIIM co-manages. Well, over the weekend it went from friction to fire in the protected area. According to SATIIM, a large area of the national park was destroyed in an inferno that erupted on one of the seismic lines on Saturday and took more than a day to contain. In a release today, SATIIM explains that since the start of the seismic testing it has been asking government to ensure that the company pays for the monitoring of seismic testing activities. But the NGO says the government has not responded positively “leaving the national park open to such disasters.” SATIIM’s executive Director, Gregory Ch’oc told News Five via phone today that it’s the first time there has been a fire in the park and that US Capital Energy must be held responsible for the damage.

Via Phone: Gregory Ch’oc, Executive Director, SATIIM

Gregory Ch’oc

“Our ranger from Crique Sarco and Barranco informed our office on Monday that there was fire and some of the villagers from Crique Sarco saw the fire burning inside the national park. Investigation by our rangers concluded that there were sparks created by explosives used in the seismic testing that may have started the fire. I understand from our rangers that it was contained sometimes on Monday.”

Delahnie Bain

“Do you know as yet the size of the area that was burned?”

Via Phone: Gregory Ch’oc

“No, we do not know that yet. We are trying to send our rangers in and trying to make a determination where to access that area to determine the size and the damage that occurred as a result of the fire. On Monday we alerted the Forestry Department as well of the fire and I also believe that they may be also doing their own investigation.”

Delahnie Bain

“Okay, but it is certain that it’s in an area where the seismic testing is being done.”

Via Phone: Gregory Ch’oc

“Yes. This has been reported by villagers who work with the company that it is on one of the seismic lines. They have determined, based on discussions with the people working with the seismic testing crew, that is in fact on the seismic line and the area has not yet been determined.”

Delahnie Bain

“And according to your release, the fire was actually put out by the oil company workers”

Via Phone: Gregory Ch’oc

“I understand they evacuated their workers initially when they could not contain the fire and they went back in with additional crew to try to contain the fire. I want to state for the record here that the fire, as we understand it, occurred on one of the unique ecosystems in Central America, the sphagnum moss. We understand that’s where the fire was concentrated. Again, we will verify this when our rangers go into the area.”

Ch’oc says that it will be left up to the Forestry Department to determine what steps to take against Capital Energy under the law and the oil company’s permit. Meanwhile, SATIIM will continue its own investigations as co-manager of the park.

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4 Responses for “SATIIM blames US Capital Energy for Fire in Reserve”

  1. bmp-resident says:

    This should be a message to encourage ppl to go out and vote today for the People’s Referendum on Offshore drilling.

  2. Sharp says:

    I say that this Gregory Ch’oc needs to go and take a course in explosives, so he can get a better understanding on what a explosive does when detonated underground.

  3. Elgin Martinez says:

    This is exactly what’s going to happen when the politicians refuse to listen to the people.

  4. no news says:

    fires in the south all the time during dry season. mostly caused by non-Mayans. burn for days, no one held accountable. gov’t don’t care, locals do nothing to punish these idiots. at least oil company sent in firefighters. no professional firefighters outside PG. What is the latest on rosewood theft? gov’t turn blind eye? or gov’t just wink while corruption officers get paid?

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