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Meeting tomorrow on oil spill in Gulf

Problem of ‘iron graveyard’ also on agenda
Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Minister of the Environment and Water Resources Ganga Singh will meet tomorrow with stakeholders to come up with a solution to address reports of an oil spill in the Gulf of Paria caused by two of 12 derelict vessels. Singh said in a phone interview with the T&T Guardian yesterday he planned to meet with the Ministries of Energy and Transport, the Maritime Services Division and other agencies to "come up with a plan to deal with the reality now."  



He said he would try to contact Energy Minister Kevin Ramnarine about using the National Oil Spill Contingency Plan to clean up the spill. However, Singh said, legislative change may be required to address future problems. The EMA said last week derelict vessels were not in its jurisdiction but were the responsibility of the Maritime Services Division. 



A December 11 T&T Guardian report highlighted there might be more than 12 vessels sunk in the Gulf. Singh also indicated that during the meeting he intended to get a true picture of the number of derelict vessels. The ships have been anchored a mile off Bayshore in the northwestern peninsula for approximately two years. 



Originally owned by a New Orleans-based company, Tidewater Marine, they were bought by a local company, Trinidad Vina Ltd,  which intended to convert them to scrap metal and sell them to China. That did not happen. A group of concerned citizens called for government intervention to address the problem. 


The group, led by T&T Game Fishing Association members Steven Valdez and Jonathan De La Rosa, said in follow-up media reports that not only did the ships pose an environmental risk but there were concerns of suspicious activity on the vessels. It also voiced concerns about boaters entering the space who may be unaware of the vessels' location and the potential risk of collisions.  


Commodore Garnet Best, a contractor responsible for the management of wrecked vessels and legal affairs for the Maritime Services Division, has been dealing with the owner, Nguyen Hai Chau, owner of Trinidad Vina Ltd, for more than a year. 


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