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Oil spill report due month end

Sunday, April 13, 2014
Members of the Fishermen and Friends of the Sea (FFOS), vice president of the Claxton Bay Fishing association Bhadose Sooknanan, left, president of the Alcan Bay Chaguaramas Fishermen Association Francis Gomez, president of FFOS Gary Aboud and president of Cocorite Fishing Facility Diane Christian-Simmons show a quantity of dead fishes and a pelican at an early morning protest outside the Environmental Management Authority, Elizabeth Street, St Clair, Port-of-Spain last month. PHOTO: ABRAHAM DIAZ

The Environmental Management Authority’s (EMA) findings on the scores of dead mullet washed up along the south-western coastline early this month led to more financial losses for already cash-strapped fishermen. 



President of Fishermen and Friends of the Sea (FFOS) Gary Aboud said state-owned Petrotrin stopped the $1,200 compensation to the boat owners on the same day the EMA reported that the mullet did not die from oil contamination. In a telephone interview, Aboud once again challenged the authorities to come clean on the real impact of the December 17 oil spill along the south-western coastline.



The Sunday Guardian sent an e-mail to Petrotrin’s corporate communications manager Gillian Friday requesting confirmation and received an out-of-office reply. Friday also said she would forward the e-mail to the company’s public relations officer, George Commissiong, for  a response. There was no response up to press time. But Aboud is defending himself amid claims that he staged the fish kill to get compensation.


“Many citizens are selfish and self-serving. I will not respond to corrupted, retarded and ignorant people. God help them,” he said. Aboud, who has already been arrested for his defiance of the police during protests for the fishermen after the spill, says he is willing to do it again. He said the fishermen will meet later today and he will get his direction from them. “The Government is hoping that we go away, but we are not going anywhere,” he said.


The Sunday Guardian learned that the National Environmental Assessment Task Force (NEATF) appointed by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar to investigate the cause and effect of the December 17 oil spill along the south-western coastline is expected to be completed by month end. “That is just a plaster, a red herring, a distraction,” Aboud said. He said the important stakeholders were not represented on the taskforce but the energy company was.


“There are insufficient science-based experts on that committee but the energy sector is well represented. We expect the energy company to investigate the energy company?” he asked.



Task force almost ready
Four months after the group headed by EMA boss Dr Allan Bachan was appointed, their two-pronged investigation is nearing completion. The parallel investigations focused on the root cause of the massive oil spill and whether the National Oilspill Contingency Plan worked as it was supposed to. The task force will also recommend strategies to prevent a recurrence of the spill, as well as an emergency implementation plan in case another occurs.


Another issue emerged last month when dead fish began washing up in the areas affected by the oil spill where the dispersant Corexit 9500 was used. Contacted for comment, Bachan said: “We are not going to make an assessment based on incomplete data.” Word is that the EMA is awaiting a report from the Caribbean Industrial Research Institute (Cariri) before making a definitive pronouncement on what killed the fish.


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