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Sunday, April 20, 2014
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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Roget warns Petrotrin after La Brea tour: Treat residents with respect
President general of the Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union Ancel Roget is warning that if La Brea residents are not treated with respect, he will mobilise massive civil action against state-owned Petrotrin in the coming weeks. The warning came as Roget and his team yesterday toured several parts of La Brea which is stricken with oil fumes, after last month’s spill in the Gulf of Paria. “All we ask is for residents to be treated with respect and dignity...they did not spill the oil, they should not suffer,” Roget said to loud applause.
“That is why we are here and we will provide a voice for these people who have been suffering for so many weeks.” Roget claimed that contrary to Petrotrin’s assurance, no medical personnel were sent to help the people of Coffee Beach and Station Beach, where thick crude had covered the shoreline. He also said toxins were being used to retrieve sunken oil from the ocean floor and this too was affecting the residents. “These residents have to go through the peril of inhaling toxic fumes,” Roget said.
“To get the oil out of the seabed you have to inject toxins to get the oil to float. This is what the children have been breathing. Medical personnel is at zero.” He also denied that 100 meals were being served per day after residents have been banned from cooking. “The OWTU is monitoring this spill and we exposed a report which says there has been a number of leaks from lease operator Trinity Oil and Gas. We believe that Trinity is being shielded,” Roget said.
Trinity has already distanced itself from the leaks, but has noted it will await the results of Petrotrin’s probe before making further comment. Asked whether the OWTU will be providing legal representation for affected residents, Roget said no. He said, however, that the OWTU will continue to make calls on the Government and Petrotrin to treat residents with respect. If that fails, he said there will be mass mobilisation.
Meanwhile, several residents said they were frustrated as oil continues to flow onto the beaches. Onika Branka Towers said Coffee Beach was not 90 per cent clean. “People don’t know the dangers we are facing now...Our children are suffering from respiratory problems,” Towers said. Damien Lewis said Petrotrin must deal with residents on a fair and reasonable basis. Another resident Carlton Plenty said school reopens on Monday and parents were worried about preparations because of the oil fumes.
Petrotrin, in a statement yesterday, said mop-up operations were continuing daily. The company is yet to quantify its losses. There was still evidence of oil on the beaches up to yesterday and Roget also showed remnants of crude on the mangroves.
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