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Saturday, April 19, 2014
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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Roget puts blame on Petrotrin bosses
President general of the Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union (OWTU) Ancel Roget says heads must roll at Petrotrin for the “environmental disaster” caused by the oil spill which continued to ravage the south-western coastline of T&T yesterday. Addressing a media conference at OWTU headquarters, Paramount Building, Circular Road, San Fernando, yesterday, Roget said Petrotrin has failed to implement a proper emergency response to the disaster.
“To date, the oil spill in La Brea has not been contained. They have not identified the source of that leak...the entire coastline community is at risk because their contingency plan is woefully inadequate,” Roget said. The oil spill began on Tuesday at Pointe-a-Pierre when a ten-inch main ruptured. Petrotrin said that oil spill was contained. However, the company said since then there were four separate spills.
The major spill, which has devastated Carrat and Queen’s Beach in La Brea, is still causing damage to the coastline and affecting residents. Petrotrin said it was yet to determine the source of that spill. Roget said: “It is a major environmental disaster taking place there (La Brea) and they do not want to take responsibility. They are the owners of the fields, they are culpable.”
Yesterday, Roget, who was flanked by OWTU executives, came to the defence of Petrotrin employees after the state-run oil company claimed that sabotage was behind the frequency of oil spills. “We do not concur with the company’s offering of the excuse that it is some kind of sabotage or otherwise,” he said. “We want to put on the table clearly what we believe those incidents to be; we want to say there is a massive cover-up of the Petrotrin management to shield their friends, the lease operators. “Do not blame the workers.”
What the country was seeing at La Brea and along the coastline, Roget said, was the result of Petrotrin’s lack of monitoring of lease operators. Roget said lease operators had been allowed to work “without scrutiny, monitoring and unregulated.”
“We are saying they must not escape scrutiny and monitoring and a thorough investigation to determine whether they are culpable in this regard also,” he said. He added that the OWTU had condemned the level of poor health, safety and environment standards at the level of lease operators. The OWTU boss said the blame for the oil “fiasco” should be laid at Petrotrin management’s feet for reducing security at field operations, both offshore and onshore.
He said: “Petrotrin is short by some 273 security officers. In Trinmar, you have 70 security officers...Short, understaffed in the security arrangements to take care of very multi-billion assets to ensure oil and gas is protected.” Roget said the union had complained about the lack of security on numerous occasions and nothing had been done.
He said: “Workers were attacked while on duty on morning shifts and even broad daylight, robbed on the job. Pumping jacks and electrical cables cut and stolen from fields. All of these would have occurred because the company removed the level of security and it is open season for the bandits.” Roget said the union will begin an independent assessment of the amount of oil lost and the cost to Petrotrin.
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