Residents group raises concerns about drainage, other matters

Stabroek News
November 21, 2002

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A residents group has spelt out concerns it has with the Draft Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the proposed expansion of the Ogle airport and a key issue raised is drainage of the area.

The Ogle Residents' Group (ORG) also says that the project's financial viability has not been addressed in the EIA and it went on to say that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) cannot claim that this is no longer an environmental issue as a precedent had been established for this type of assessment with the Amaila Falls Project. The EIA was done by Technical Publishing Advisory Services.

The ORG in a letter to David Singh, Chairman of the Environmental Impact Assessment Board of the EPA said no data was provided in the EIA on the drainage capacity of the GUYSUCO Ogle pump station, and that no data was presented for groundwater resources or quality in the area, similarly for surface water. The submission said the catchment area drained by the current area is not defined and, in addition, there is conflicting information provided in the baseline data where it seemed to suggest that run-off from impermeable areas would be less than the run-off from the permeable areas.

ORG is of the view that no analysis has been done to indicate impacts on water quality, nor to ascertain the capacity of the existing drainage network to discharge the additional run-off in a timely manner.

The group reiterated that the project would likely result in flooding, which may not only effect the Ogle area, but also as far as South Georgetown. This is so, the letter indicated, because GUYSUCO's drain-age system is currently operating at full capacity. This newspaper sought a comment from GUYSUCO on the drainage matter but the corporation declined to comment saying only that the matter was under review.

The ORG submission contended that the EPA does not have the capacity to assess noise modelling. It said, too, that the model put forward in the EIA report does not seem to incorporate measures for noise abatement. In addition, the submission said discrepancies appear between the noise levels put forward in the preliminary environmental report and the developer's Draft EIA. The group considers this a discrepancy which is serious enough to warrant thorough scrutiny for accuracy.

ORG made the point that in an addendum to the EIA report, it was stated that crop dusting activities are projected to peak at 20 flights daily at a frequency of one landing or take-off every fifteen minutes. This information, according to the group's submission, was not included in the EIA report's mathematical equation and this would underestimate the noise impacts on residents in all communities in the vicinity.

ORG also cited studies done of noise impact on children.

The group also listed a number of topics which it said were not addressed by the EIA Report including: Air Quality and Dust Management; compensation for depreciated loss of property values; and plans for upgrading of the access road to deal with increased traffic.

It was also argued by the ORG that several vulnerable assets are close to the aerodrome but these have not been identified in the report neither has a vulnerability analysis been done.

The group, which listed 15 members as "core representatives" said it had occasionally consulted with religious leaders in the Plaisance, Industry and Ogle areas, the University Students Association, the Region 4 Regional Democratic Council, the Plaisance Industry District Council and others.

The group added that it must be assumed that an implicit condition for settlement in the area would have been preservation, if not improvement of the environmental conditions faced by residents. Any imposition of environmental stress, especially to the extent contemplated by the proposed expansion project, would be at best breach of trust on part of the authorities, or worse, a basis for seeking legal redress on the part of residents.

Efforts to contact Dr Singh on the issues raised by the ORG failed.

A decision has to be taken on whether the EIA is accepted or amended and whether a permit should be issued to the developers, Ogle Airport Inc (OAI).

OAI has plans to expand the aerodrome and earlier this month it said that all aspects of the EPA act were being complied with. It noted that since 1998 there had been three comprehensive studies on the possible environmental impact of expanding the Ogle operations into a municipal airport.

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