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La Brea residents ready to sue

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

The oil spill clean-up at La Brea hit a snag yesterday, after Coffee Street residents blocked access to the beach to protest Petrotrin’s handling of the environmental disaster. “We did not ask for this. We did not ask for oil on our doorstep,” 33-year-old Virgil Gilbert said as parents and children raised placards during the demonstration, saying the Government was fooling the nation about the state of their community. 



They were also critical of Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar’s statement that the oil spill was not as drastic as was portrayed in the media.  “We are saying enough is enough, because it has been 15 days since this incident...People are talking on the news, saying that they have everything under control,” Gilbert said. “I work out there and every day there is a new set of oil coming up. What is going on with regard to the oil is that the oil is on the seabed itself and when the tide rises, it comes up. 


“So this is a work in progress. This is not going to be finished in two weeks. “There are villagers and children who are going in the hospital. My sister’s daughter was in the hospital, a youth across there was on his back for a couple of days and there is a guy here who cannot even come near us because he cannot handle the fumes. 



“What enraged the people is the fact that Petrotrin sent no representative to speak with the people who are suffering on the ground. It is day 15 and no one is saying anything. That is enough to get anyone vex.” Mothers yesterday pleaded with the Government for more assistance, as they said children were falling ill every day as oil continues to wash ashore. 


Scores of residents living near Carat Shed Beach and Point Suave also yesterday flocked to the Brighton Sports Club to complain to Petrotrin communications officer George Commissiong and HSE staff member Steadman Cadogan. Residents there complained that no doctors and nurses were at the La Brea Community Centre as promised. Later on a nurse arrived, but there was no doctor. 



Commissiong said the Government and Petrotrin were already looking into evacuating the people and that all the residents’ problems were being looked at. “We know they had some concerns and we were told that if concerns were not addressed that they were going to take some form of protest action,” he said. But Gilbert said yesterday’s protest was only phase one of residents’ action, as lawyers had visited them and offered representation on their behalf. If Petrotrin did not act swiftly, legal action would be taken, he said.


“The next course of action is that we have lawyers who are willing to fight for us, because they too find this is unfair,” he said. “Phase two would be the lawyers getting in contact with Petrotrin to let them know what is going on with us.


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