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Ramadharsingh: Psychosocial help for oil spill victims

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Hundreds of people affected by a massive oil spill in the Gulf of Paria have started receiving social and psychosocial support, Minister of the People Dr Glenn Ramadharsingh has said. Speaking to reporters after collecting 100 hampers for his constituents at the Preysal Community Centre on Thursday, Ramadharsingh said, “We have responded to the oil spill and we have a disaster response team which is addressing the situation.”



Ramadharsingh said many of the residents were still in shock at the extent of the spill, which has travelled from Pointe-a-Pierre to Chatham over the past week, “Social and psychosocial support have been given to them. In these disasters people are really mortified (sic) and they tend to be in a bit of shock,” Ramadharsingh said. “I don’t know what the extent of the impact is but we will evaluate and assess and give whatever support or recommendations we can give for other ministries to intervene.”



He said the Ministry of Energy and Petrotrin have been working together to contain the spill. Meanwhile, Petrotrin’s head of corporate communications, Gillian Friday, said Petrotrin had received reports of fishermen’s boats being contaminated with oil at Coffee Beach, La Brea, on Wednesday. She said Petrotrin’s Operations, Security and Health Safety and Environment personnel responded by initiating containment and clean-up efforts.



Three contractors were hired and used heavy mechanical and other equipment to clean up the affected area. A fourth contractor with a crew of 25 community personnel trained in oil spill response from the La Brea area was also mobilised. She said environmentally friendly shoreline and mangrove-cleaning solvents, as well as oil-spill sorbent materials, were being used.



“The regulatory agencies, the Environmental Management Authority (EMA) and the Ministry of Energy and Energy Affairs, have been informed and are currently working in collaboration with Petrotrin in the cleanup exercise,” Friday said. “Surveillance of contaminated areas has been conducted, both by air and by sea, to determine the nature and extent of the spill. Oil has also been observed at Pt Cocoa Beach at Chatham and clean-up is currently in progress,” she added.



Residents requiring medical attention were treated at the adjacent Lake Asphalt facility in Brighton. Friday also said trained personnel from Petrotrin Employee Assistance Programme Services have been made available to residents.



The source of the spill has not been determined and the assistance of the Institute of Marine Affairs is being utilised to “fingerprint” the oil to ascertain the source. Friday said Petrotrin would continue to ensure that the clean-up exercise was done in a way that minimised the impact on residents, surrounding communities and the environment. 


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