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Ramnarine: $7.7m for fisherfolk affected by spill
Investigations into last December’s oil spill which affected La Brea and surrounding areas,are taking into account the role played by people at managerial level, Energy Minister Kevin Ramnarine confirmed yesterday. Ramnarine spoke about the oil spill issue during yesterday’s Parliament session in answering queries from People’s National Movement (PNM) MPs Fitzgerald Jeffrey and Paula Gopee-Scoon.
Ramnarine said Petrotrin had reported a leak on December 17, 2013, on its number 10C line involved in the loading of its Bunker C and the Marabella barge. He said Petrotrin estimated the quantity of oil leaked was approximately 7,554 gallons of Bunker C-type oil. The cause of the leak, Petrotrin said, was due to a failure of the C Line’s support chain, which caused the line to shear on the barge.
Ramnarine said Petrotrin sent samples of the oil to a Houston, Texas laboratory for testing and it showed that the oil from the Bunker C line was the same as the type that washed ashore in La Brea at that time.
He said 12 Petrotrin employees engaged in the loading of fuel at Pointe-a-Pierre were suspended over the leak. Six were terminated and six were reinstated, he added. Ramnarine said the employees involved included a port operations co-ordinator, dock supervisor (port and marine), ship team leader (port and marine), ship supervisor (oil stocks), ship team leader (oil stocks), foreman (engine pump attendant, oil stocks). He confirmed that the post of port operations co-ordinator was management level.
Ramnarine further said he was advised by Petrotrin that investigations are also taking into account the role played by people at managerial level. He denied there was any effort to cover up or protect any managers. He said up to February 26, 2014, some $3.1 million in compensation had been paid out to 27 boat owners at Coffee Village, Carat Shed, Point Sable Beach and Bay Beach and $4.6 million in compensation was also paid to 81 boat owners at Otaheite Bay.
He said, however, that no compensation was paid to residents of the same areas, save to those involved in catching and selling crab and oysters. But he added he would raise the issue of compensation for residents with Petrotrin and ascertain if there were any plans for it.
Ramnarine said the chemical Corexit 9500, a dispersant, was used to break up the oil and was biodegradable, like dishwashing liquid. He said it didn’t drive the oil to the sea floor. Ramnarine said the substance was not banned in any state, and was used in the UK, US, Norway, France and Singapore. The chemical was used at Pointe-a-Pierre only and not La Brea, he said, adding it cost $12,600 for 55 gallons.
Ramnarine said Spec Clean, from Specialists Chemicals Ltd, was used to clean beach outcrops and vessels. That cost $9,995 for 55 gallons. Eco-Sperse, used to clean La Brea beach, cost $8,500.
IMA testing fish kill
On a related Opposition question, Environment Minister Ganga Singh said the Institute of Marine Affairs is currently testing fish which washed ashore recently in La Brea and will report to him within a week. He said, however, that he could not sanction erecting signs warning people not to fish until there was scientific evidence on the issue. He said on March 17 the IMA also tested fish from Otaheite and Claxton Bay vendors and found no detectable polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in those samples.