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PM: SECURITY BEEF UP FOR OIL SECTOR

By RICHARDSON DHALAI Wednesday, December 25 2013

click on pic to zoom in

WHILE saying there wasn’t any evidence the nation’s energy sector is under threat by persons unknown in the wake of five major oil spills in the southern sea, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar yesterday identified several initiatives to safeguard TT energy resources including the installation of CCTV systems at unmanned offshore platforms and regular patrols by Air Guard and National Operations Centre helicopters.

Speaking following an aerial survey and walkabout of Coffee beach in La Brea yesterday evening, Persad-Bissessar also said the TT Coast Guard as well as Petrotrin’s security officers will conduct regular patrols of all oil platforms.

“So there are two issues here, that of the environment and the source of this and whether there were security breaches or was it a pure accident...because these things do happen,” Persad- Bissessar said.

“To combat the possibility of action by unknown persons, at the moment we have not identified the source, at the moment we have not identified how it happened, whether there has been sabotage or whether it is, as I say again, accidents do happen.

“I have been told the way the currents run, it could have happened at Petrotrin up in Pointe-a- Pierre and the way the currents run, it would flow down south, that’s why you have seen it here so we agreed that the Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard will, together with Petrotrin security, maintain a presence in the area,” she said.

Persad-Bissessar said the installation of CCTV systems on unmanned facilities would be monitored by Petrotrin security while the Coast Guard radar surveillance centre, “has been mandated to closely monitor, utilising the radar site at San Fernando and Cedros, with respect to unmanned platforms in the areas in question and vectoring the TT Coast Guard units to intercept should unknown vessels approach these platforms.”

“The TT Air Guard and National Operations Centre helicopters, they will do air patrols over certain areas and report all contacts to the National Operations Centre,” she said, adding that joint army and police patrols will continue in La Brea while Petrotrin would continue to monitor security at Pointe-a-Pierre.

“The energy sector security initiative committee will conduct emergency meetings every 72 hours or if necessary at shorter notice to monitor the ongoing situation, to provide assistance as required and security at the beach route facilities where I am told 90 percent of our gas comes in, that will be ramped up by the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force personnel to pre-empt any possible follow on action,” she said.

“There is no evidence that our energy sector is under serious security threats but we will take no chances, that is the mainstay of our economy and because of the environmental issues, the lives of many people on a direct personal basis.”

Regarding the oil spill at Coffee and Carrat Shed beaches at La Brea, the Prime Minister described it as “bad” before noting that based on media reports, she expected the disaster to be worse.

“It’s bad, but quite frankly I thought it was much worse than what I have seen, I really thought it was much worse,” she said, adding, “but coming from the air, I must say in the water, I am not seeing very much oil spill on the water, however as we are on the ground, you can see the oil has reached onto the land surface.”

She said Petrotrin officials had advised her that seven of the affected areas were “within 90 to 100 percent completed” while there were another “six areas that are in progress and work is continuing.”

She said the seven areas were Point Coco which was 100 percent complete; John Williams place — 100 percent complete, Unity beach — 90 percent complete; Granville — 95 percent complete; Cedros — 99 percent complete; Fullerton — 100 percent complete and Belle View — 100 percent completed.

And regarding Coffee beach, she said work was still in progress saying, “I believe the matter is being contained, I do not think there is any cause for panic at this point in time.”

She also stated there were no plans to relocate any of the residents while a Petrotrin official stated the clean-up at Coffee beach should take another

week.

Asked about the source of the Coffee beach spill, Energy Minister Kevin Ramnarine said a definitive identification of the source had not been ascertained and samples had been forwarded to Houston, Texas for further examination.

Meanwhile, Persad-Bissessar also met two officials from Oil Response Limited from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Brian Gove and TJ Quinn. Their equipment is expected to be brought to La Brea in the next few days.

Resident Melissa Joseph called for the relocation of the residents saying the oil spill was having a disastrous effect on their health and called for government housing.

Petrotrin also noted it has also been assisting with the provision of medical attention to affected residents. Yesterday, 28-year-old La Brea resident Tamara Montano, was transported by the Petrotrin ambulance to the Point Fortin Area Hospital where she gave birth to her third child, a baby girl.

Montano was accompanied by Petrotrin Fire and Emergency Medical Technician Christopher Vialva and Fire Technician Anderson Webb who provided primary medical care en route to the hospital. Both mother and baby are in good health and resting comfortably.

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