“Don’t Cover-up for Companies”

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-EPA Exec. Director cautions ESIA evaluators

The executive director of Liberia Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Nathaniel T. Blama, has cautioned independent Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) Evaluators against covering up for companies operating in the country, a release has said.

Blama told a group of independent ESIA evaluators not to turn their eyes away from harmful practices by companies operating in the environment.

“Avoid being intimidated by concessionaires, because you are independent evaluators, so you have to be independent in your judgment,” he said.

Mr. Blama, who spoke at programs marking the official certification of independent ESIA evaluators on Tuesday, June 12, threatened to revoke evaluators’ licenses if they compromise the people’s interest for money.

On Monday, May 28, the EPA commenced the 6th edition of the Environmental Evaluators Training Licensing Certification Program for ESIA evaluators and representatives of line government ministries and agencies.

According to the release, the 2018 ten-day training was intended to equip independent consultants, large project developers and representatives of line government institutions with basic technical information and guidance required in the administration of ESIA.

For that, Mr. Blama disclosed that beginning November 1, this year, the EPA will not permit any company to directly submit their own study, rather through a third-party as provided by law.

According to him, an environment assessment study will be done quarterly by certified evaluators, but warned that the paper work will have to be done properly by licensed evaluators.

“Don’t do cut and paste, because the reports have to be done differently from that of logging companies. Any data that you provide will be cross-checked, and if it was altered, your lesson will be revoked,” Blama threatened.

In reference to EPA staff, who also benefited from the training, Mr. Blama said, “we are training a new army at the EPA to set-up the check-point.”

He said that the agency will not accept evaluators doing desk study, noting that independent evaluators will have to go on site and take accurate data.

He indicated that every ESIA reports submitted to the EPA will have to consider a brief and management plan.

Mr. Blama, a former independent evaluator himself, promised to strengthen independent evaluators in the discharge of their duty, but asked them to set the bar.

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