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Petrotrin defends use of banned dispersant
Petrotrin president Khalid Hassanali yesterday defended the company’s use of the dispersant Corexit 9500 during oil-spill clean-up operations at La Brea. He said there was no cause for concern, since, “all the chemicals we are using are approved chemicals and we are using them in the approved manner.” He made the statement to reporters yesterday during a media conference, which was also attended by Petrotrin chairman Lindsay Gillette, at the company’s Learning Resource Centre, Pointe-a-Pierre. It was held to give an update on the progress of the clean-up. Gillette said the company followed all rules and regulations for using it. “It is being used in minimal quantities, in accordance with the dispersant use policy, which is one nautical mile offshore up to a ten-metre depth of water, which is 30 feet. “The first spill occurred two miles offshore at a depth of 15 metres, the second spill occurred two to three miles (out, at a) depth of 20 metres. So we have used this particular dispersant, in accordance with what is required National Oil Spill Contingency Plan,” he said.
Yesterday the Petrotrin officials were grilled about the chemical, which has been banned in the United Kingdom and Canada. Concerns have been raised about it causing cancer and killing marine life after it was used in the BP Gulf of Mexico disaster of 2010. Hassanali said the company used “approved batches.” He said: “We at Petrotrin will not participate in any action that is likely to cause harm to people or to the environment or to wildlife.” He said the company shared the concern about the chemical’s impact on humans, the environment and wildlife and pointed out that Petrotrin was working alongside the EMA (Environmental Management Authority) in its clean-up efforts. “We have an agreement with the EMA as well. We are going to be meeting with the EMA (this week) so in a sense we are under the auspices of the EMA going forward,” he said.
Hassanali denied trying to avoid answering questions which raised safety and health concerns about the product. “My objective is not to avoid your questions at all. My objective is to be responsible and represent the interest of the residents of La Brea, as well as represent Petrotrin and the community at large. We did say that it is an approved chemical. We also google as well,” Hassanali added. He said medical facilities were open to all La Brea residents and some 200 residents had used them and doctors were taking care of all of the residents’ complaints, whether oil-spill-related or otherwise. Hassanali said the company’s medical department would advise management further on any issues that may be directly related to the oil spill. He said all air and water quality reports would be included in the company’s final report on the spills.