The Civil Defence Commission in collaboration with the United States Coast Guard on Monday officially concluded the oil spill response training at the CDC’s headquarters in Thomas Lands, Georgetown where a donation of disaster response equipment was also made.
From January through April 2022, the U.S. Coast Guard led a series of joint activities designed to assist Guyana in the development of a reliable national response system and enhance the CDC’s maritime oil spill prevention, planning, and response capabilities. The activities built on Guyana’s progress with their National Oil Spill Contingency Plan, and included training on shoreline clean up and marine wildlife protection, provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which was conducted with support from the United States Department of State. Acting Director General of the CDC Major Loring Benons in his opening remarks expressed that the partnership between the two nations has been fruitful.
“The training exercises sought to identify strengths, weaknesses and lessons learnt to enhance the plan, thereby preparing all stakeholders to respond effectively and efficiently if there is an oil spill in the future.”
Meanwhile, CDC’s Preparedness and Response Manager, Major Salim October who gave an overview of the programme explained that 231 persons from 30 agencies benefitted from the training exercises. These beneficiaries were from the Guyana Energy Agency, Ministry of Natural Resources, Environmental Protection Agency, Maritime Administration Department, Civil Defence Commission, Guyana Police Force, Guyana Defence Force Coastguard and Air Course, Guyana Fire Service and the Guyana Wildlife Conservation Society.
"I stressed these organisations because it shows the continuum that is necessary across many organisation and partnership to achieve effective oil spill preparedness and response," the CDC's Preparedness and Response Manager said.
He noted that the training was done in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic and mandated restrictions. Some of the training events included: Fundamentals of Remote Sensing, Oil Spill Risk Assessment, Shoreline Clean-up and Assessment Technique, and Oiled Wildlife Management. Major Salim stated, “These trainings catered to gaps that were identified while Guyana developed its National Oil Spill Contingency Plan which was approved in August of 2019.” US Ambassador to Guyana Sarah-Ann Lynch during her feature address said the United States is committed to providing the tools to Guyana to enhance the capacity in the areas of regional security and environmental protection.
She said, “The United States support the responsible development and utilisation of natural resources. Therefore, we positively responded to a request from the Government of Guyana to provide essential training to members of the CDC and the National Oil Spill Committee, to strengthen Guyana’s National Oil Spill Contingency Planning.” The Ambassador noted Guyana's vulnerability to flooding and the CDC's work in giving support to those affected. "To further bolster the CDC's ability to help Guyanese citizens the US Embassy through our military liaison office today marks the donation of equipment to include tents, mats, sleeping bags cots, tables and generators which the CDC can distribute to victims of natural disasters," The Director General (ag) has since lauded the items that were donated to the CDC. These items were donated under U.S. Southern Command’s Humanitarian Assistance Program.