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Sando fishermen seeking compensation

Friday, December 20, 2013
Petrotrin oil spill...
Fishermen Wayne Russel, left, and Rolins Cayenne, from King's Wharf, San Fernando, display parts of their fishing nets contaminated with oil from the spill off the Petrotrin Pointe-a-Pierre jetty on Wednesday. PHOTO: TONY HOWELL

Despite assurances by state-owned Petrotrin that the oil spill in the Gulf of Paria was brought under control on Monday, San Fernando fishermen are claiming the spill was not properly contained and has destroyed their equipment. News of the oil leak was revealed during the San Fernando City Corporation’s statutory meeting on Tuesday, where a Petrotrin statement warned fishermen, water taxi crews and the yacht club to be on alert.



The warning came a day after Petrotrin discovered a leak near its Pointe-a-Pierre Jetty on Monday. Some 200 barrels of oil were said to have been contained in the area. However, San Fernando Fishing Co-operative Society president Salim Gool, in an interview at King’s Wharf on Wednesday, said a fishing crew went out to sea around 5 pm on Tuesday and when they returned to shore the following morning there was oil on the nets. 


“Petrotrin is lying to the nation. They say that the oil spill under control and look fishermen still getting oil on their net. We cannot believe them.” Gool said he knew of instances where fishermen found oil on their nets six months ago and were not compensated. He also complained that fishermen were not immediately informed of the spill on Monday. 



In addition, Gool claimed the chemical used to dilute the oil in the water also drives the fish away. He called on Petrotrin to visit the fishermen and discuss compensation for their nets and loss of earnings. On another issue, Gool said there has been no consultation with San Fernando fishermen about the seismic survey which will start soon.


A press release signed by Gillian Friday, Petrotrin’s corporate communications manager, on Wednesday, said, “Following oil spill clean-up efforts yesterday (Tuesday), personnel at Petrotrin observed from an aerial as well as boat surveys conducted today, that there was no sheen or oil along the shoreline spanning Claxton Bay, San Fernando, Mosquito Creek and Otaheite. “Petrotrin has mobilised all available resources to manage the spill response efforts in an effective and efficient manner and the situation is under control.”


The release added that response efforts had been co-ordinated in collaboration with personnel from the Ministry of Energy and Energy Affairs and the Environmental Management Agency. But hours after this release was sent out, residents of La Brea reported that they had been severely affected by the spill and Petrotrin officials had to start containment operations there.


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