Jason Solomons is a respected film critic on BBC News, Sky News and BBC Radio.
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Like smoke, talk about oil spills fading
The outstanding concern about the two major environmental incidents that we have had so far in 2014 is not that they occurred, but the official reaction. We are an island that rests on and is surrounded by seas of oil, gas and salt water, with antiquated machinery and small island ideas about maintenance. Was it or was it not 15 years since Petrotrin had checked the No 10 sea line? Are 40 of 72 storage tanks really at high risk for leakage? Shall we ever know? The Beetham dump, the La Basse—the “lower part,” not a landfill but a rubbish dump, a dump in the toilet sense or as in a place where you dump things you do not want anymore and do not want to see any more—has always been a festering sore on the body of Port-of-Spain and no number of berms, tall, tall buildings and SUVs on the road can change that.
Petrotrin’s reaction to the various oil spills—we still not sure how many—was spin! Petrotrin spin so much it should be on the T&T team for the Nagico Regional Super 50. Spin, put a positive spin on the story, confuse everybody and wait the proverbial seven days for everyone to forget or the next bacchanal to come along, which it duly did, courtesy the police and Beetham residents. For days there was no official reaction to the Beetham fire. The PM, as usual, was somewhere else. SWMCOL took three days to issue a press release. The EMA did the usual vaps thing they do on environmental issues: disappear for a while and then mumble. When they surfaced it was to tell everybody, five days after the fires started, that the air was safe that day. They refused to tell anyone why it was safe and exactly what they are measuring.