Press Responses : Thursday, September 23, 1999

Export credit agencies seek to improve environmental standards
Thursday, September 23, 1999
By The Canadian Press

OTTAWA (CP) -- Export credit agencies, which finance many of the world's biggest industrial projects, are trying to agree on stricter standards for environmental assessment. Officials from about 20 government-owned credit agencies, including Canada's Export Development Corp., met here Thursday to discuss the environment issue, while activists denounced the record to date.
Pamela Foster, co-ordinator of a coalition called The Halifax Initiative, said Canada's credit agency has funded a number of projects with disastrous ecological consequences.  She cited the Canadian-owned Omai mine in Guyana, which spilled massive quantities of cyanide into Guyana's main river after a tailings dam burst in1995.
"Without stringent standards, the environment, local communities and Canada's image abroad has been and will continue to be damaged," she said at a news conference.
Eric Siegel, vice-president of the Export Development Corp., said he was disappointed with the allegations. He said the Guyana project met World Bank environmental standards, and accidents happen everywhere.