The family accused of encroaching on Heritage Petroleum’s right-of-way at the site of the oil spill in Fyzabad has been instructed to demolish any structures in the pathway of the underground pipeline.
Azam Mohammed claimed that on Monday he was handed a letter by company officials when he returned to his home at Oil Well Road, Massahood Junction, where clean-up works are still ongoing.
Mohammed said, “This letter stating that they coming Thursday, which is tomorrow, to pinpoint all which part they have to break down, otherwise they give me 21 days to break down them thing,” he said.
While Mohammed admitted that the pipeline runs between his two houses, he said: “It ain’t have nothing to break down really. The line out of the two houses.”
He admitted that one of his houses is built less than a foot from the pipeline but claimed his father built the house more than six decades ago and paid rent for the land.
The Mohammed family was among nine families evacuated to Paria Suites Hotel after two leaks occurred along a 16-inch trunk pipeline on May 14, spilling crude oil into properties and drains in the community.
Six of the families returned to their homes last Friday. Mohammed, however, said they have received no word about when he and his family will be given the all-clear to return home.
He insisted that the pipeline had been condemned by Petrotrin but Heritage recently recommissioned the line, making the area unsafe for residents. Mohammed said his family is willing to be relocated.
“Relocation for the people is the best thing. All who around the line have to move from there, otherwise they have to move the line,” he said.
Attorneys Indira Binda, Vishwanath Seecharan and Jesse Paul are now representing Mohammed and some of the other affected families. They met with some of the residents on Tuesday to initiate legal proceedings against Heritage for compensation.
One of the residents, Suresh Ramsundar, said the company asked them to sign a document, but they refused.
“They wanted we to sign a form that they wouldn’t stand no liability for any damages. None of we sign it, that is why we had to get the lawyer involved,” he said. However, he was pleased with the company’s clean-up efforts.
Heritage did not respond to requests for comment on these latest developments.