As countries worldwide?? move to embrace the green economy concept?? in all its facets,?? at least one Government?? department has been labouring?? behind the scenes to ensure that future generations of?? Barbadians inherit an environment that is healthy, productive and enjoyable.

This, in a nutshell, is the mandate of the Environmental Protection Department (EPD), Government’s pollution monitoring and control arm, which, come March, will celebrate 40 years of service to Barbados.

From its genesis in 1971, the Public Health Engineering Unit, as the Department was previously called, comprised a nine-member staff complement and focused primarily on development applications and the appropriate method of waste water disposal.

As its mandate expanded, the Department’s responsibilities increased concomitantly to include monitoring of ground and marine waters. During that period, the unit, which fell under the aegis of the Division of the Ministry of Health and Welfare, also underwent a name change to become the Environmental Engineering Division. In 2004, it received its current name.

With an existing staff of 50, Director, Jeffrey Headley, maintained that over the past 40 years the EPD had "played a pivotal role in the development of the Barbadian landscape, as it relates to sustainable environmental practices".

"We have several intelligent young persons here who work tirelessly to ensure that Barbadians continue to enjoy the quality of life to which they have become accustomed. Additionally, due to our participation in various regional and international fora, Barbados has developed a reputation as a leader in the area of environmental sustainability.

"The achievements of the department have been the result of symbiotic relationships with other government departments and agencies, non-governmental organisations, academia and the private sector. The EPD was a Caribbean pioneer in the development and implementation of a routine monitoring programme for bathing and ground waters," Mr. Headley disclosed.

Air, Marine and Noise Pollution Control; Solid Waste Regulation; Water Quality Monitoring; Building Development; Hazardous Materials Management; Emergency Response; the removal of Derelict Buildings and Vehicles?? and the Implementation of various Multilateral Environmental Agreements, are the areas which fall under the Department’s purview.

In providing greater insight into their daily functions, Acting Senior Environmental Technical Officer, Ingrid Lavine, remarked that most Barbadians were unaware that their Water Quality team collected samples from groundwater and marine water sources islandwide on a weekly basis, and had them analysed to ensure that the quality was adequate for consumption and recreational contact.

She explained: "Some people also do not know that you need approval from EPD before you can start to build your home or make material alterations to your business or residence. Another little known fact is that EPD, through our Marine Pollution Control Section, has responsibility for protecting the island’s marine environment from pollution.

"The team here at the EPD is always seeking innovative ways to educate the public about what we do, as well as about environmental issues important to Barbados. We organise seminars for target groups, go into schools and communities and talk with people about environmental issues. We also participate in activities with students from our adopted school, the Garrison Secondary, and every year we host a marine litter clean-up and data collection event at Morgan Lewis Beach. We will continue these efforts as we recognise the important role that every person plays in protecting this environment on which we all depend."

Boasting numerous accomplishments over the years, some of the EPD’s most recent include: the Development of a National Implementation Plan for the Management of Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs), (which seeks to minimise the effects of POPs on the community, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, NULL, NULL, 0); the Development of a Noise Pollution Policy in 2001 (to define the future management of environmental noise pollution, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, NULL, NULL, 0); the Development of the Marine Pollution Control Act 1998-40; the Development of the National Oil Contingency Plan and assisting with the creation of the South Coast Sewage Treatment Facility.

In addition to being selected to sit on several high-level international panels, the EPD was recently awarded a bronze medal for its participation in the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM) programme.

And so, as this critical unit comes of age, its principals are assuring Barbadians that it will continue to be strict guardians of our nation’s environmental heritage.

"The future for Barbados looks bright; the Department anxiously awaits the enactment of the Environmental Management Act which will assist in our mandate, as we aspire to ensure the sustainability of the Barbadian environment," Director Headley asserted.

Barbadians are being invited to show their support for the Department, and its work, by joining staff and well-wishers in a number of activities being planned throughout the month, to commemorate this important milestone.

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