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Busy Christmas for foreign experts

Published: 
Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Government and international oil spill experts will be working through the Christmas holidays to clean up the oil spill in La Brea and other areas of the southern peninsula. Four international specialists and two cargo planes filled with equipment arrived yesterday to assist with the clean-up of five oil spills last week in that area. 

 

 

Energy Minister Kevin Ramnarine made the announcement yesterday during a post-Cabinet press briefing at the Office of the Prime Minister, St Clair. He said he would meet with the experts today and work would begin immediately. Ramnarine said members of the company, Oil Spill Response, will be assisting with the clean-up in the La Brea area and other parts of the southwestern peninsula. 

 

Two of the experts are from the United States and two are from the United Kingdom. He said the equipment, which included skimmers and booms, would be taken by a convoy of trucks to the Point Fortin and La Brea communities for eventual use in the beach clean-up. Booms are used to prevent spills from spreading to other areas and skimmers trap oil on the surface of the ocean.

 

Ramnarine said the exercise, previously estimated to take a month to complete, may now take less time due to the foreign expertise. He also revealed that a committee, chaired by Environment Minister Ganga Singh, and including National Security Minister Gary Griffith and himself had been established to oversee clean-up activities on the peninsula and launch an independent investigation into the root cause of the spills. He said he expected a preliminary report on the spills by the end of next month.

 

 

Security for energy sector

Ramnarine said Cabinet also had discussed yesterday the security arrangements of the energy sector and noted its vulnerability. “The Cabinet recognises the vital importance of the energy sector to the economy of T&T and we took note of the possible vulnerability of key assets, not just oil assets but transportation and production assets which are located throughout T&T.”

 

He said Griffith was asked to brief Cabinet next week on the current state of security arrangements for the energy sector and a report would subsequently be presented to the Cabinet with recommendations on how security could be improved. A release yesterday from the Office of the Prime Minister announced that it was decided at yesterday’s meeting of the National Security Council (NSC) to increase security around installations in the energy sector, both on land and at sea.

 

“The NSC got an update on the oil spill and while an investigation is being undertaken by Petrotrin, Government has decided to protect its facilities within the energy sector. “Stricter security measures will be in place at all energy installations, and access won’t be as easy as before,” the release said. Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar is expected to tour the areas affected by the oil spill today. 

 

Residents in the affected areas have been warned by Petrotrin officials not to cook, as lighting flames could result in explosions. Ramnarine said the issue of compensation for residents was also still being discussed but Petrotrin had already discussed a $2,000-per-day compensation plan for fishermen.

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