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…says poor weather, technical difficulties led to disrupted Zoom meeting
The Environmental Assessment Board (EAB) which, on May 10, 2021, facilitated a public hearing into the appeals against the Global Oil Environmental Services (GOES) Waste Treatment Facility Project, has assured that it will address the concerns raised during the meeting.
On Monday, the Village Voice News reported that several residents of Coverden on the East Bank of Demerara (EBD) had been left frustrated and without answers after the EAB’s public hearing meant to provide clarity on the planned construction did not answer their burning questions.
The meeting was held at the Soesdyke/Huist’ Coverden Neighbourhood Democratic Council at 16:00 hours and simultaneously on Zoom, with an attendance of about 60 participants.
However, when the meeting began and appellants were asked to make a formal presentation, they complained that the EAB had not made them aware that such would be needed.
They also complained about the Zoom internet connection which affected a large portion of the beginning of the meeting even as other minor technical difficulties continued throughout.
Winding down to the end of the time set for the hearing, the questions of several participants were left unanswered and the Zoom meeting abruptly ended.
In a statement on Wednesday, the EAB acknowledged that due to the COVID-19 pandemic they were required to only accommodate 50 persons at the NCD and facilitate others via Zoom. Due to technical difficulties posed by the outdoor venue and inclement weather conditions, it said that the virtual platform was interrupted at times. Even so, the EAB assured: “However, the EAB was able to fulfil the objectives of the hearing and has documented for resolution any outstanding questions and queries which could not be fully addressed at the close of the meeting.”
The public hearing was meant to record the appeals against the decision by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) not to require an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the GOES Waste Treatment Facility.
The EAB stated that a total of 4 appeals were submitted within the statutory 30 day period in response to the decision published by the EPA on March 21, 2021.
“However, while the EAB is only required by law to conduct public hearings into the appeals submitted within the statutory period, accommodations were also made for the additional appeals which were submitted out of the prescribed time,” the Board stated.
“The EAB has also afforded the formal appellants the opportunity to submit the specific concerns, reasons and justifications surrounding their appeals within 7 days and will endeavour to engage with the appellants further if necessary to ensure that these are addressed. The EPA was also asked to make its presentation, including the justifications for its decision, publicly available at its Head Office and the EPA’s website. Thereafter, the EAB will deliberate on its decision for publication in the daily newspapers.”
The proposed facility will involve the transfer, storage and treatment of Exploration and Production (E&P) Oil and Gas Waste, at Block lettered “X”, and Block numbered one (1), all being portions of Plantation T’ Huiste, Coverden, East Bank Demerara.