…following diesel spill in Ikaazupu Wao creekThe South Rupununi District Council (SRDC) expressed its concerns over the recent spill of over 30 drums of diesel fuel into the Ikaazupu Wao creek in Region Nine (Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo). The spill has caused the Indigenous communities representative body to call on the Natural Resources Ministry to develop and implement the Headwaters Protection Plan as agreed upon.The topped truckThe now polluted Ikaazupu Wao creek falls within the titled lands of Aishalton village, South Rupununi. Last Wednesday, the SRDC reported that a truck owned by V Dalip Enterprise was transporting over 100 drums of fuel and as it was crossing the Ikaazupu Wao Bridge, it broke.The truck then toppled over and spilt approximately 30 drums of diesel into the creek.This creek flows into Tooto Wao, which in turn flows into Kwitaro River. The people, not only in Aishalton, but also in the villages of Awarewaunau, Maruranau and Shea depend upon this river’s ecosystem. The SRDC said this fuel spill and pollution of such critical waterways will harm the fish, wildlife, and livelihoods of the beneficiaries.“Our people fish and hunt in these rivers and creeks. This fuel spill provides just one example of the concerns raised last week at the just concluded National Toshaos Conference. Kid James, project coordinator for the SRDC, had expressed concerns about the damage that mining trucks and excavators have caused to transport infrastructure in the South Rupununi.“He recommended that the Government of Guyana review and improve its policies and laws on mining, including on the way mining concessions are issued and on the environmental, social, human rights, economic, and infrastructural impacts of mining. Importantly, the Government of Guyana must also improve the enforcement of laws and regulations,” the representative body said in a statement.The review and improvement of these laws, policies, and enforcement measures must be done in conjunction with Indigenous peoples, who are the ones most impacted by mining activities, James had recommended. James’ statements were echoed by representatives and Toshaos of other communities and regions in Guyana, and the final resolution of the NTC Conference reflected these concerns and included associated recommendations.“This latest environmental catastrophe only serves to reinforce the need for the effective development and implementation of the Headwaters Protection Plan already agreed upon between the Ministry of Natural Resources and the SRDC. The plan for the protection of the headwaters of the Kwitaro and Kuyuwini Rivers is currently under discussion between the Ministry and the SRDC and would ban mining in and near those rivers and aim to preserve the health of those waterways. We look forward to working with the Ministry to jointly develop and implement this important measure for the protection of our waterways, our environment, and our land, and we hope it will serve as a useful model for other communities in Guyana as they struggle with their own mining-related issues,” the statement noted.Mining has destroyed a number of waterways around the country and disrupted the eco-systems of those affected waterways.