GGMC LEADING TRIPARTITE APPROACH TO KAIETEUR PROTECTION
Wendella Davidson The Chronicle December 1998
Guyana's Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Parks Commission (NPC) are to agree, within a few days, on a tangible way in which the downstream effects of mining can be mitigated to protect the enlarged Kaieteur National Park.
The strategy they will craft for the tripartite approach would benefit from the report by a team currently probing, among other things, what has drastically changed the colour of the Kaieteur Falls.
An official said legislation will also be promulgated to establish the boundaries of the larger park and prohibit miners to operate too near the vicinity.
Access has already been limited because GGMC has issued no new licences since the expansion was proposed.
The investigators now in the Potaro are to verify the source of heavy siltation reported close to Guyana's premier tourist site.
A senior mines officer and mining engineer from the Environmental Division of GGMC as well as a technician and other support staff from the EP/a are taking samples from Potaro and Echerak rivers and visiting operations.
A release issued after they left following an emergency flyover last week said, if necessary, the group would issue 'cease work orders to any outfit perceived as a threat to the environment .
Those permitted to continue will be advised on the best methods for ensuring their mining techniques are environmentally sound, Commissioner of the GGMC, Mr. Brian Sucre said.
The overfilght last week by representatives from all three agencies involved in protecting Kaieteur was prompted by press reports that dredges might have been the cause for the change in the appearance of the 822-feet drop.
After the trip, Sucre reported evidence of mining about 11 miles upstream of the falls on land from where the "tailings" (discards) are dumped into the Echerak river with murky sediment.
But it was not confirmed where specifically was the source of the sludge.
Prime Minister Sam Hinds has warned though, that any mining which creates turbidity in rivers, streams or creeks will not be tolerated.
Chairman of NPC, Mr. Andrew Bishop expressed "deep" concern over the results that irresponsible activities could have on the integrity of the falls and the park, both of which are protected places.
The park is included in the national plan for ecotourism development and has a vast
reservoir of endemic species still being indexed by international scientists.