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OIL SPILL WOES

By CECILY ASSON Friday, December 27 2013

click on pic to zoom in

The birth of a baby is always a cause for celebration and the joy can be twice as nice especially when such birth occurs two days before Christmas.

However in the case of hairdresser Tammy Montano, 28, who on Monday gave birth at about 4.50 pm to her third child, a healthy baby girl, Aniah, at the Point Fortin Area Hospital, caring for the infant is now a challenge as she is one of several residents of Queen Street, Coffee Beach, La Brea, whose lives have been turned upside down as a result of the massive oil spill in the area. Baby Aniah and her parents now have nowhere to call home as they have been advised by doctors that the area is not safe for the infant to stay.

Montano, her common law husband Shannon Lucas, and children have now fled their home built on the beach front which is now covered in oil. In the interest of the health and safety of their newborn baby, they are staying at the home of a friend, Desta Lee, who also lives on Coffee Beach but a much safer distance away from the hardest hit area where Montano lives.

Montano spoke with Newsday yesterday.

She said, “Aniah was born healthy but with what is happening down here right now, I am very worried. We had to abandon the house because of the toxic fumes which we were told can affect the baby’s health. We need somewhere to live.”

As a nursing mother, Montano said she has not been eating properly as affected families are not allowed to cook because of the dangers which they are exposed to because of the oil spill.

“They are providing meals but it’s not what I should be eating. I need plenty milk but all we get is juice morning and evening.”

Lee, the Good Samaritan who following the birth of Aniah gave up her bedroom to Montano and the baby, told Newsday she would do so again if she had to.

She said, “People don’t know what we are really going through down here. It is not an easy situation and she cannot return to that house. Right now I am sleeping on the floor so as to make sure the baby starts her life comfortably. They should relocate cases like Tammy’s until the situation improves. Government has houses in Point Fortin and Egypt Village. Give her temporary accommodation,” Lee pleaded.

Meanwhile, mother of three, Melissa Joseph, 29, whose two year-old daughter, Faith James, suffers a skin condition called atopic dermatitis complained that the disaster has caused her child more distress. Joseph believes the fumes have caused her daughter’s skin to become irritated causing her great discomfort.

She said she has been unable to sleep at nights. Yesterday morning, Joseph had to rush Faith to the Point Fortin Area Hospital for medical attention after the child spent an uncomfortable night at home. She told Newsday Faith was given a five day course of antibiotic and has been advised to return on Monday to do blood tests. Joseph has temporarily relocated to her mother’s home a short distance away from the affected area. Because of the warning issued against cooking, Joseph also revealed her daughter who is on a special diet, has not been provided with a proper meal.

La Brea Member of Parliament Fitzgerald Jeffrey, who was on a visit to the area yesterday, commended State oil company Petrotrin for the work done so far.

“What I have seen now compared to what it was before they have done plenty work but there is still much more to do,” he said.

“I hope they can find the source of the problem and put a stop to the oil spill.”

In a media release issued on Tuesday, the Energy and Energy Affairs Ministry stated the National Oil Spill Contingency Plan’s Incident Command Team (NOSCP ICT) received reports of significant progress of the clean-up activities conducted at the various oil-impacted beaches along Trinidad’s south-west peninsula.

It further stated the beaches at La Brea, Bonasse, Cedros, Granville, Pt Coco, Unity and Jack were between 75 to 90 percent cleaned.

“The beaches within the La Brea area, Carat and Coffee, and the coastline at Pt Sable, were heavily impacted and clean-up efforts are concentrated within these areas. The team is closely liaising with the Wildlife Orphanage and Rehabilitation Centre and Petrotrin is continuing its ongoing assessment of wildlife in the affected areas,” the release stated.

The source of the spill is yet to be determined, however investigations are ongoing. The La Brea spill is one of five which hit the south-western peninsula on December 19. Clean-up crews continued to work in the affected communities yesterday.

On Christmas Eve, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar toured the area with Petrotrin officials who have brought in foreign experts to advise on containment of the oil spill.

A Petrotrin lease-operator, Trinity Oil, referred the spill at the Rancho Quemado field to the police, which it operates noting valves had been tampered with suggesting sabotage.

It is believed the oil spills may be retaliation in response to a crackdown on illegal bunkering of diesel fuel.

There were reports that a sixth oil spill had occurred in Moruga on Christmas Eve. However, Moruga MP Clifton De Couteau yesterday said it was not spillage on the scale of La Brea, but oily residue which had seeped into an area along the shoreline.

He said he had been advised there was a broken oil line in the Moruga West field, which he called on authorities to urgently repair.

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