Energy Minister Nicole Olivierre says she is extremely concerned about recent oilspills, particularly those affecting fishing communities in her La Brea constituency.
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Residents suffering from oil spill
Despite assurances from several press releases from State-owned Petrotrin in the past two days stating its latest oil spill is “being contained,” residents of Mango Alley Silk Cotton Road, Marabella, say the stench of leaking oil and gas is worsening. Even as cleanup activities continued on the Guaracara River, residents have started calling on Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar to visit them to witness their plight. A release by Petrotrin on Wednesday stated the spill was discovered on Monday after the MP6 tank in the north area of the Pointe-a-Pierre refinery, containing an oil and gas mixture, sprung a leak.
One resident, Radica Villafana, says the Prime Minister needed to experience first-hand the hardships residents are facing. “We want the PM to come here, see if she can breathe with this scent. Hope she does not wait until everything has been rectified to come here and see us,” she added. Villafana said her daughter, Dianne Villafana, 29, was almost nine months pregnant and despite suffering from asthma she was treated briefly at the Augustus Long Hospital, discharged and told to buy her medication and she would be compensated. “You tell me if that is caring. They did not see about her properly and on top of everything they told her to buy her own medication?” she asked. Another Mango’s Alley resident, Randy Ramlogan, says he is losing income as he was told not to operate his machines in his home workshop.
He said: “I have my own wood-working shop at my home and they (Petrotrin officials) came by on Tuesday and told me not to start any of my machines or something could spark and ignite.
“I losing money everyday I don’t work but who compensating me at the end?” Ramlogan said his six-year-old nephew, Jaydon Morris, had been complaining of constant headaches.
Petrotrin: Shoddy work caused spill
In a press release sent late yesterday, Pertrotrin said an inspection of the leaking MP6 tank revealed that the collapsed bund wall, which was built in 2000, was not constructed according to the engineering design specifications. The release added that a multi-disciplinary team had been appointed to conduct formal investigations. The release assured residents no chemicals were being used in the river.
Bank remains closed
Meanwhile, RBC’s Tropical Plaza branch remained closed for the second day with the doors bearing signs advising customers of the closure. The Unit Trust branch in the plaza also remained closed but Fitness Centre and Republic Bank were opened for business. During a media briefing on Wednesday president general of the Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union Ancel Roget described the spill as a disaster in the making. He blamed mismanagement by Petrotrin as the root cause of the spill. Efforts to contact the Environmental Management Authority (EMA) yesterday were unsuccessful.