Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 23rd 2014 Contents A11
Saturday, August 23, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
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Saran Sampath Ltd
It has been over a month since
residents complained they were
falling ill because of strong hydro-
carbon fumes close to the NP Quik
Shoppe in Debe.
However, after extensive checks,
National Petroleum (NP) has failed
to find the source of the emissions.
In a statement Thursday, NP said
it had investigated after receiving
reports of a hydrocarbon odour
from some of the residents living
in proximity to its NP Debe Service
"NP s HSE and maintenance
crews conducted numerous tests,
including air quality monitoring,
water quality monitoring and pres-
sure testing of our fuel systems.
The TVOC (total volatile organic
compound) or hydrocarbons level
taken were well below acceptable
limits in and immediately around
the service station," NP said.
The company said pressure test-
ing of all the underground diesel,
super and premium gasoline stor-
age tanks, with associated valves
and piping, was also conducted
and conclusively showed that all
fuel systems were secure with no
"The company wants to reassure
the community that we have lis-
tened to and taken action on their
calls. However, we reiterate that
we did not find the source of the
hydrocarbon leakage at our NP
Debe Service Station," the state-
On July 25, business owners in
Debe called on NP to find the
source of the fumes, which had
been lingering for more than a
Crystal Archan, who runs three
businesses opposite the Quik
Shoppe, said fuel had been spilling
into a drain alongside the building.
She complained that residents were
experiencing nausea, burning eyes
and headaches. Residents also said
the fumes worsened during rainy
Officials of the Environmental
Management Authority (EMA) also
conducted investigations to deter-
mine if the leak was coming from
an underground tank. However,
these were inconclusive.
Oil spill residents
still getting help
Petrotrin, in a statement, said it
was continuing to provide medical
care for residents affected by the
July oil spill in Marabella.
Petrotrin said several families
were contacted through the Mara-
bella committee for follow-up con-
sultations which began on Thurs-
day, but only three people respond-
ed for review and treatment.
Petrotrin said the first batch of
people invited for follow-up med-
ical consultations were pregnant
mothers and children. Medical con-
sultations were to continue yes-
terday between the hours of 10.30
am and noon.
Several residents who were inter-
viewed on Thursday said they were
no longer experiencing fumes from
the polluted Guaracara River.
On July 29, slop oil spilled into
the Guaracara River, affecting hun-
dreds of residents.
The spill occurred when a low-
pressure storage tank, MP 6, located
on the compound of Petrotrin s
Pointe-a-Pierre refinery, ruptured
and spilled more than 17,000 bar-
rels of slop oil. The slop oil was
not contained because a bond wall
collapsed, causing the slop oil to
seep into nearby tributaries and
the Guaracara River located about
a mile away. It is believed that
5,000 barrels of oil flowed into the
The EMA said the spill could
have devastating effects on the river
and it planned to go to Cabinet
with a proposal for funds to reha-
bilitate the river.
Mental illness poses a serious threat to T&T s
population and citizens must become their fellow
countrymen s keepers in order to stop the downward
The call came from Pooran Sankar, regional manager
for psychiatric mental health services at the South
West Regional Health Authority (SWRHA), during a
mental health stakeholders seminar at San Fernando
Hill conference centre on Tuesday.
He said mental illness was a "real threat" affecting
citizens and noted that T&T recorded 76 suicides
last year. The highest number of those deaths, he
said, occurred in the age group considered to be in
their most productive years.
Untreated depression, Sankar said, continued to
be the number one cause for suicides.
Debe residents complain of fumes
NP finds no
leak at station
He said he was hopeful T&T could "successfully
fight back" and curb the dark scourge that was "lurk-
ing on the horizon." But he said if "we have to curb
this downward slide," all stakeholders and citizens
must become gatekeepers.
He said people being diagnosed with mental illness
must be assured that "it is not a death sentence."
Sankar said statistics showed that by 2020 major
unipolar depression would become a global burden
on health care.
"We must respond now if we are to slow down
the escalation of this," he said.
Tuesday s seminar, he said, was aimed at helping
to develop intersectoral collaboration in the fight
against mental illness.
Sankar also pointed out that alcohol abuse was a
"mental issue" that should be addressed. He pointed
to the suicide of Hollywood actor Robin Williams a
few weeks ago as an example of depression. Williams,
he said, also battled alcohol abuse.
He called on organisations such as the Self Help
Commission and the Housing Development Corpo-
ration (HDC) to provide housing assistance to people
suffering with mental illnesses, since they were often
people from the lowest rung of the economic lad-
der.Sankar said the Judiciary also had a role to play
in assisting people suffering from substance abuse
and welcomed the drug treatment court.
Chief Magistrate Marcia Ayers-Caesar was among
attendees at the seminar.
He also said 7000 people regularly visited the
SWRHA s outpatient psychiatric clinics.
Mental illness threatens T&T---expert
Christopher Samaroo digs out oysters attached to a rock at King's Wharf, San
Fernando, on Wednesday. Samaroo told the T&T Guardian that oyster sales
continue to be low since the La Brea oil spill in December 2013. PHOTO:
KRISTIAN DE SILVA
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