On Wednesday, December 2, the Supreme Court will hear arguments from the Belize Institute of Environmental Law and Policy (BELPO) on the failure of the Department of Environment (DOE) to fully enforce the Environmental Compliance Plan (ECP) for the Macal River Upstream Storage Facility (MRSUF), commonly known as the Chalillo Dam.

If you are concerned about the job DOE has been doing on the Chalillo dam, or on Belize's environmental issues generally, join us at 9:00AM in the Supreme Court, Belize City.

According to the law, an Environmental Compliance Plan (ECP) “. . . is a legally binding document . . . consisting of a set of legally binding environmental conditions, guidelines, policies and restrictions, which the developer or his representative agrees to in writing to abide by as conditions for the project approval.”

That means the Department of the Environment (DOE) is obligated, under the law, to monitor and enforce all ECPs including the Chalillo ECP.

In 2007, BELPO went to court asserting that the DOE was not enforcing the requirements of the ECP for the Chalillo Dam. The court agreed. When asked by the media, if we felt good about the decision, we said we would feel good once the orders were enforced.

But, over a year has passed and people still don't know what to do if there is a dam break; the water of the Macal River has gotten so bad that people will not even go in it, but BECOL is still not doing the required monthly waster quality testing – either that, or the DOE is refusing to tell us about the water quality test results. We’re still not well informed about the mercury levels in the fish; and, there has been no meaningful sharing of information with the public or an opportunity for the people's concerns to be heard.

This is why we have gone back to Court. We want the Court to order the DOE to fulfill its obligations to enforce the Court orders by specific dates. If the Department of the Environment fails to comply within the time periods set (if the court rules in our favor), the Chief Environmental Officer should be charged with contempt of court for failing to do his job. This is the essence of the current Court case, Belize Institute of Environmental Law and Policy (BELPO) v. DOE that will be heard on December 2, 2009.

Although this case deals specifically with the Chalillo ECP, it affects every citizen of Belize who is concerned about the DOE doing its job properly. Please attend the court proceedings and show your concern for our environment and respect for the rule of law.

For more information:

BELPO at 802-0220