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Neal and Massy Energy launches probe in Moruga

Friday, December 27, 2013
Workmen from Neal and Massy Energy Resources Ltd survey a ruptured oil line in the Moruga forest yesterday, which caused the death of fish in the river. PHOTO: RISHI RAGOONATH

What caused a four-inch oil line in “excellent condition” to rupture at Rock River, Moruga, on Christmas Eve is engaging the attention of officials from Neal and Massy Energy Resources Ltd. And despite the pungent fumes, residents said they were not adversely affected and were able to enjoy their Christmas. This is the sixth oil leak within two weeks—the first five occurring along the south-western coastline, causing havoc to the lives of residents and on the environment. 


Petrotrin officials claimed sabotage, but the Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union countered that poor maintenance was to blame. When T&T Guardian visited the community yesterday, there was a high scent of hydrocarbon and small deposits of oil were visible in the river. Several dead fish were seen floating in the river. Clean-up operations were also in progress. 


Rudranath Dookran, operations manager of Neal and Massy Energy Resources Ltd, said the ruptured line belonged to his company. He explained that the company was in a joint venture operation with Petrotrin. On Tuesday around midday, he said, a four-inch transfer line, running from the company to Petrotrin’s main trunk line, ruptured. 


“The cause is yet to be ascertained. We are still investigating.” When asked whether the company suspected sabotage, he said, “I don’t want to comment on that. There is a lot of talk about sabotage going around, it is being investigated.” He said, “It was an old line but in excellent condition.” Dookran said they had repaired the leak, but because of the flood caused by heavy rain, the oil got into the river and water courses. However, he assured that it was contained and localised to that specific area. 


He said no one complained about feeling ill and no crops or property were destroyed. “This is miniscule compared  to what’s happening elsewhere.” Residents were also hired to assist in the clean-up operations. Resident Keith Noel said everything was “cool.” “We did not have any major problem. Nobody is sick. We calling and everything.” Another resident said he was satisfied with the response. Dookran was optimistic by today the scent would dissipate and clean-up operations will completed.


Moruga MP Clifton de Coteau said the situation improved since Wednesday. “The oil flow is not as thick in the river.” However, he said there was need for clean-up operations along the riverbank and some residents complained about the fumes. The minister was expected to have visited residents around 5 pm last evening.


At a press conference at OWTU’s headquarters in San Fernando, yesterday, OWTU president general Ancel Roget said the union received a report on the incident yesterday morning, but were not able to get any specifics. He assured, however, that the union will closely investigate the nature of the leak and what measures were put in place to contain it. 


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