The oil moratorium was passed into law preventing offshore oil exploration in the sea in October, 2017. This was welcoming news for World Wildlife Foundation, Oceana Belize and other members of the Belize Coalition to Save Our Natural Heritage. Oil spills are not only caused by oil exploration and disaster also tends to happen during pipeline breaks. Therefore, the Ministry of the Environment wants to ensure that if one occurs, the country will be able to appropriately respond. In this regard, there is a workshop being held on devising a National Oil Spill Contingency Plan. Love News spoke with Maxine Monsanto, the Environmental Officer for the Department of the Environment about the workshop.
Maxine Monsanto – Environmental Officer, Department of the Environment: While Belize is no longer going to have offshore drilling we still have petroleum moving up and down our coastline from ships that basically move up and down the coastline; whether it’s coming in to Belize harbor itself or whether it’s offshore transporting Belize the major points from Panama, El Salvador up to Miami- as well as on land. This plan addresses spill response in three areas, land, river and sea. This is the last phase in a twelve month project, there had been two previous workshops stakeholders have been given the opportunity to see the document in its complete form in February, there were edits and changes made based on the recommendations from the stakeholders in February they made major additions to it and today we are at the end where they are looking at the final product. The stakeholders will be given until the 17th of August to make any written comments if they have any further changes they want to make. Following the validation we intend to submit to cabinet for approval. Once it’s approved following the legislation it will be submitted to NEMO as part of the National Hazard Plan.”
The three-day workshop is being held at the Radisson Fort George Hotel.