March 31, 2021
By Ibrahim Kabba Turay
The Environment Protection Agency (EPA) yesterday (March 30) held a one day engagement with Stakeholders and Civil Societies, and Ministries Departments Agencies on guidelines for environmental and social impact of Oil Spill and coastal management on the theme “ Sustainably manage the impacts of offshore oil and gas activities in West Africa- Sierra Leone Project.”
Speaking at a workshop organised at the Boxting Memorial Hall in Freetown, Director of EPA-SL, Momodu Alrashid Bah, said the workshop was to train actors on environment advocacy techniques, citizens mobilization, alert actions, and raising awareness on issues related to oil and gas activities in the country’s coastal marine environment.
“I will like from the outset to express my profound gratitude and sincere appreciation for honouring the invitation of this all-important workshop,” he said.
According to Bah, land-based activities caused runoff flows to the sea, carrying plastics and litters agriculture fertilizers and pesticides, sediments from mining, sewage, industrial and wastewater discharges from cities, adding that the oil spill from mining, cars and heavy machinery are dangerous to communities.
He added that all the aforementioned sources of pollutants do not only stress or disrupt marine life, but also release toxin that kills marine life and affects its entire biodiversity; contaminate coastal marine area and seafood, spreading cholera, typhoid and other diseases.
He said coastal water promotes the growth of algal blooms, which can be toxic to wildlife and harmful to human and also hurt local fishing and tourism industry.
He said the project has two phases including improving knowledge and capacities for citizen’s mobilization and engagement of decision-makers on issues relating to oil and gas activities in coastal marine environment.
He said the workshop would highlight the devastating effects of oil spill on the marine ecosystem and that representatives of CSOs would be educated on their roles and responsibilities in preventing or handling incidences of oil spill, thus noting that the need for cooperation with EPA to deal with related threat to the marine environment shouldn’t be overemphasized.
He concluded that civil society will raise awareness, citizen’s mobilization advocacy, and ensure effective environment monitoring and provide alert actions with coastal communities and facilitates multi-stakeholders consultation on environment issue unrelated to oil and gas activities
“This will improve the management of the risk of pollution from offshore oil and gas activities,” he explained
He said significant investment in renewable energy generation will contribute towards the country’s meeting the Paris Agreement.
He noted that the country is determined to contribute to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
In his presentation on the guidelines on Oil Spill and coastal management, senior lecturer from the Department of Institute of Marine Biology, Fourah Bay Collage Dr Salliue K. Sankoh, said the main objective of the guidelines was to provide information to the project and the steps that needed to be taken for securing and managing Oil Spill in various coastal communities.
He said the guidelines will also teach them all relevant environmental and social issues that are to be taken into account at all phases of the project, adding that it will also provide a standardized process on how people manage their waste in their various communities and factories.
He further noted that most of the companies that are disposing waste into the sea should have a place to dump their waste so that it will not create hazard on the society.
Abdul K. Dumbuya of Conservation Society of Sierra Leone, said the workshop was very timely and that his organization was also working on awareness raising in coastal communities.
He said the workshop has given them insight on how oil spill can affect coastal communities, noting that he was very prepared to go out and give the information to people that are not aware about the effect of oil spill in coastal communities.