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Chairman of the Environmental Management Authority (EMA) Dr Allan Bachan, who also heads the Cabinet-appointed National Environmental Assessment Task Force, says the interim report on the La Brea oil spill is due on May 23 and not on Monday as claimed by Fishermen and Friends of the Sea. The organisation’s president, Gary Aboud at press conference on Monday at Woodford Square, Port-of-Spain, called on Bachan to explain why the report had not been handed in.
Aboud said the organisation was also exploring its options to see if it could bring legal action against the State-owned oil company in wake of the spill in December last year. But in an interview Bachan said the task force had been working diligently to ensure the interim report was delivered on time.
“This is not the final report as most people believed. The task force is diligently pursuing our investigation to ensure we undertake a through assessment. We have been looking at numerous documents related to the incident from a number of different sources and this is to get a holistic context of what happened. “The task force intends to submit an interim report on time which is May 23,” Bachan said. He said the interim report had multiple parts in accordance with the terms of reference.
Describing the terms of reference as very broad and far-reaching Bachan said the report would identify the findings based on the terms of reference and would make the necessary recommendations to move forward. He said the relevant agencies, including the EMA, had been conducting an assessment of the fish in the affected areas and it was determined there was no impact of Corexit on the fish stock. That, Bachan said, was based on tests at a lab in Texas and at the Caribbean Industrial Research Institute (Cariri).
He said there had been several pronouncements on the matter without the necessary facts. “This is wrong. We have been forthcoming to the public with information. It is unfortunate people continue to make pronouncements without any facts and we would expect much better from these persons as respected and trusted authorities within the environmental area,” Bachan said.
He said it was also very “curious” that Aboud was claiming one thing while there were fishermen in total disagreement with his statements. “I challenge Mr Aboud to show where are the facts and to substantiate these claims,” Bachan added.