The Environmental Quality Protection Board (EQPB) has updated its Environmental Assessment (EA) and Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) regulations, which seek to minimize environmental impacts of development projects such as land erosion, tree removal, and generation of wastewater.
EA’s and EIS’s, documents which outline problems and solutions of a proposed project’s environmental impact, are required for larger development projects such as resorts and hotels, subdivision housing, apartment complexes, development of submerged land, and restaurants with twenty seats or more. They must be submitted to the EQPB Office before a project is approved.
The updated regulations were written to ensure stricter management of things such as wastewater disposal and community impacts.
The EQPB hosted two workshops on Wednesday and Thursday last week to inform the public about these changes, one targeted towards EA/EIS preparers and contractors, and another towards State Government employees, who sometimes apply for development projects themselves, and other times serve as advocates for developers.
“Every single prosperous country in the world today, without exception, has very strong environmental laws and regulations,” said Mr. Peter Peshut of the EQPB during Wednesday’s workshop.
Mr. Peshut explained that many of the environmental regulations in Palau were outdated, and needed to be to modernized to take into account large and complex projects, which are becoming more numerous.
“Most of the environmental regulations in the Pacific were written in the early-to-mid-1980’s, and were based on Hawaii regulations,” said Mr. Peshut. “That worked back in the day when island populations were very small and economies were very simple . . . that has all changed completely.”
One of the most significant changes to the regulations is the focus on utilities, which include how water is safely provided for projects and how wastewater is managed. The EQPB identified wastewater management as an “emerging national concern” in Palau. According to the new regulations, for any large development project, wastewater discharge information must be approved for connection to the public sewer system, or must include a treatment and disposal plan approved by the EQPB.
The new requirements also include verification of an available power source, and a comprehensive solid waste collection and disposal management plan.
Mr. Peshut also said that the requirements consider community impact, such as noise levels or other disturbances to the surrounding community.
The EQPB stressed that projects could be disapproved altogether if risk management cannot be lowered enough to meet regulations.
However, with many having raised complaints that EQPB regulations stand in the way of development or complicate project implementation, EQPB representatives at the workshop stressed that a good tech assistance team, which is able to recognize potential impacts to the environment and propose mitigation or minimization solutions, can move a project forward quickly.
As an example, the EQPB cited a 54-room resort with submerged villas which is being planned at the former quarry site in Malakal. According to the EQPB, the developers submitted their application and EA to the EQPB in August, which proposed how they planned to mitigate impacts on their environment, and gained approval last month. The application allegedly demonstrated that, as the project will be near a public water supply, sewer, and power source, and requires minimal environmental disturbance, the impacts will be manageable.

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