Another oil spill
Thursday, July 31 2014
A SECOND Petrotrin oil incident in the space of three days has raised the ire of residents living near Petrotrin’s Pointe-a-Pierre refinery as oil leaked into the Guaracara river, causing some residents to fall ill.
The first leak occurred on Sunday morning at Digity Trace, Penal, when according to a Petrotrin report, a two-inch union on the well (Well Wilson 78) head had parted, causing oil to spout 40 feet in the air for two hours, covering nearby residents’ roofs and yards.
At 1pm two days ago, reports were made that the bottom of Petrotrin’s Tank MP6 located in the North area of the refinery “gave way” along with the wall around the tank causing oil to leak into the Guaracara river. A Petrotrin press release said the majority of the leak was contained within the refinery.
Citing the age of Tank MP6 as the cause for it giving way, Petrotrin president Khalid Hassanali said, “we are going to go into a massive programme because this happened against the backdrop of what happened in La Brea, against what happened in Penal. It is unsatisfactory. While our company is 100 years old, it is not an excuse to say the infrastructure is old. We have to do better than that,” Hassanali said.
Hassanali walked the streets yesterday and met with residents who live just beyond the bank of the affected river. Hassanali said Petrotrin’s response had two priorities: the security of the residents and to prevent the oil from going into the sea.
Residents of Silk Cotton Road, Battoo Avenue, Marabella, were upset. Crystal Charles, 27, is a mother of three children ages 8, 5 and 4. Charles complained that her children were unable to sleep last night due to the pungent oil smell. Others complained of dizziness, burning sensations in their eyes, and difficulty in breathing.
Petrotrin’s Chief Medical Officer Dr David Jackson, was present with Hassanali on the walk. Jackson said residents who were at high risk, particularly children and elderly persons, were assessed and steps were taken to rectify their problems, promising to offer medical services and basic welfare facilities in the area.
President General of the OWTU Ancil Roget claimed 17,300 barrels of slop oil spilled into the river. “This major oil spill, another disaster in the making at the hands of management of Petrotrin is a situation that could have been avoided,” Roget said. “We are in this situation because of poor management and poor maintenance programmes.”
Clean up of the Guaracara river began yesterday at 7 am with two vacuum trucks from Tiger Tanks Trinidad Limited deploying booms and syphoning the slop oil from the river to the trucks to be transported back to the refinery.