Local Fishermen to be Trained in Oil Spill Response


GEORGETOWN – US oil giant ExxonMobil says local fishermen could soon be exposed to some hands on training in oil spill response.

According to ExxonMobile, this will be in the best interest of the fishermen for them to be equipped with critical knowledge.

Safety, Security Health and Environmental officer of ExxonMobil’s local operation, Michael Persaud, made the disclosure at the Environmental Protection Agency‘s (EPA) Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) meeting in the community of Berbice on Tuesday.

According to Persaud, the National Oil Spill Response Committee which includes officials from EPA, the Ministry of Health and the Guyana Defence Force’s (GDF) Coast Guard, has been conducting oil spill response training.

He said the Response Committee has already presented a draft oil spill response plan that includes a proposition of training of the fisherfolk.

“They are the guys who go out there, they know the water, they know the resource and there is nobody who is better than those folks who know it,” Persaud said. He added that the Ministry of Agriculture’s Fisheries Department will engage with the committee to ensure that the fishermen have practical and theoretical training.

ExxonMobil’s Operation Manager, Mike Ryan told the fishermen that the company is aware of their concerns and assured that the oil company will take every necessary measure to preserve the environment. “I understand your passion; I come from a fishing community. I understand your idea about the fisherman’s role and we want to communicate to the community what the processes are.”

Persaud said the company has already spoken to the supply vessel company seeking to ascertain how they train their teams for small amounts of oil spill in the water. He said the company has equipment on hand that will be mobilised in any event of a small spill. Should there be a larger spill, the company already has a contract with an oil spill company that will activate the necessary heavy-duty equipment.

“We do everything we can upfront to prevent anything from happening, but if something does happen, we respond immediately,” he assured. – CMC