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More fish kill

Saturday, March 29, 2014
Months after the December 17 oil spill disaster hundreds of dead fish continue to wash up on Point Sable Beach, La Brea, yesterday. PHOTO: RISHI RAGOONATH

As La Brea residents joined the trade union movement’s protest at Parliament yesterday, corbeaux were having a banquet on the beaches, feasting on hundreds of dead fish which constantly washed ashore. It has been more than three weeks that the fishing and asphalt community has been seeing rotting carcasses on the seafront, but yesterday's fish kill was one of the largest seen by some residents.



 As a T&T Guardian news team visited the community yesterday, it was like a ghost town, with residents choosing to seek refuge in their homes and peeking out from time to time. Not even children could be seen playing in their yards. The scenic view along the Point Sable, Coffee and Station beaches was overshadowed by the stench of the fish kill, which could be smelled for miles as the strong sea breeze blew inland. 



Flocks of corbeaux savagely gobbled the rotting carcasses while the egrets wandered along searching for fresh fish to eat. Champion Bobblers, Paradise2 and 11 other pirogues docked on the shore were signs of a dormant fishing community. A few residents who ventured out of their homes said the carcasses washed up since Thursday night and when they awoke yesterday, the beach was almost impassable. 


Despite a crew from Fishermen and Friends of the Sea (FFOS) taking away some of the fish for testing and residents’ efforts to clean the beach, mid-afternoon high tide brought more carcasses ashore. According to fisherman Ricardo St Greaves, residents are becoming more frustrated because public officials are not letting them know what is wrong with the fish. 


Asked why the community was so quiet, he said many of his neighbours went to protest outside the Parliament to highlight the effects of the oil spill and the possible privatisation of Lake Asphalt’s plant operations.



Petrotrin responds

 In a release yesterday, Petrotrin said  laboratory tests of the sea water in La Brea was negative for contaminants. Tensions heightened during the oil spill clean-up last year after the company’s controversial use of Corexit 9500 dispersant. The dispersant was banned in several countries after studies showed that it increases the toxicity of the water, making it harmful to marine life.


 Petrotrin said, “The study area included beaches in La Brea from Station Beach south along the coastline to Point Sable, moving northward up to the River Neg and up to 2 km seawards from the shoreline of each location. “Results of the water and sediment quality study showed that all parameters tested to date were within acceptable limits for heavy metals, temperature, pH levels, salinity, dissolved oxygen and Total Petroleum Hydrocarbons (TPH).


“Based on the environmental monitoring reports, there are no contaminants identified (including hydrocarbons) in the marine and near shore environments of La Brea.” As for the bioassay on the fish carcasses, Petrotrin said it has set up a team to investigate the cause and had sent fish samples to the University of the West Indies Veterinary School for testing and analysis as well as an international laboratory in the USA.


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