by AMBIKA JAGASSARSINGH
LMCS supervisor Dexter Guerra says the decision to remove the inflatable plug from a Paria Fuel Trading Company pipeline was made by his dive team for convenience.
The removal of the plug was found to be the cause of the deadly February 25 accident in which four members of the LMCS dive team lost their lives in an independent report commissioned by the Occupational Health and Safety Authority.
Guerra was testifying before the Commission of Enquiry set up to investigate the accident on Thursday morning.
Attorney for Paria Fuel Trading Company Limited, senior counsel, Gilbert Peterson grilled Guerra about whether or not he saw the removal of the plugs on the toolbox form, to which he reluctantly agreed that he had not.
Peterson asked him if he had made LMCS owner Kazim Ali Senior, aware of this, to which he also said, “No, I did not.”
Peterson referenced an incident on February 17, when Guerra was demoted for not following Paria’s procedures and asked, “the plug was probably removed on the 25 because it was more convenient to do it at that stage than to try to do it after you install the riser?”
Guerra then said no discussion came up during the toolbox meeting before work started on February 25 about removing the plug.
“No discussions were made on removing the plug, nothing happened on that. The method statement would have to be changed right? How we were going to retrieve it? How were we supposed to reach it?”
Peterson then asked if the decision to remove the plug was due to Guerra being unable to “figure out how to reach it from on top.”
Guerra said if this was not done, LMCS would have found it difficult to remove the plug.
“I feel we would...if we did that, we might have had to lower down somebody with the crane inside the pipe to remove it.”
On February 17, Guerra was demoted for removing a barge without authorization by Ali Snr, just about a week before the fatal incident. His reasoning for removing the barge then was that it was safer to do so early in the day. Guerra said removing the barge before getting a permit to work from Paria was an established procedure.