Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : October 6th 2014 Contents RADHICA SOOKRAJ
La Brea MP Fitzgerald Jeffrey is calling
for independent environmentalists to
monitor communities stricken by oil
spills attributed to State-owned
Jeffrey made the call after pointing
out that dozens of residents from La Brea
are still suffering from the effects of the
11 oil spills which occurred late last year.
"People are still getting hair loss, skin
irritations and nausea. At least two fam-
ilies have moved out of La Brea," Jeffrey
told the T&T Guardian in a telephone
He added that several people have
sought legal advice and are in the process
of filing lawsuits against Petrotrin. How-
ever, he said not all residents can afford
to take legal action.
Jeffrey s call comes even as Marabella
resident Wendy Brewster was last week
diagnosed with benzene poisoning fol-
lowing an oil spill at Petrotrin s main
refinery. She remains hospitalised.
The MP said every day his office staff
receives cries for help from oil spill vic-
He said the EMA was compromised
and would not do a proper assessment,
hence his call for independent environ-
mentalists to join in the post-spill process
in La Brea.
"I can say this because when the oil
spill first occurred, the EMA officials
called for evacuation but afterwards they
said there was no need to evacuate even
though so many people were falling ill,"
Contacted on the issue, EMA chairman
Dr Allan Bachan said Jeffrey s comments
"The EMA is a regulatory authority
and our responsibility is to be fair, bal-
anced and following the rule of law. Our
role is to undertake the necessary inves-
tigations and we cannot act on the basis
of emotions in the absence of fact,"
Describing Jeffrey s comments as
"reckless," Bachan said ongoing investi-
gations were still taking place in La Brea.
"We are independent and whatever
statements we make must be backed by
sound science and proper data. We are
monitoring the impact of the oil spill on
plant, human and marine life and when
our investigations are complete we will
make it public," Bachan said.
He said toxicity levels are being checked
in the mangroves and rivers. He noted
that although there is no visible sign of
oil, there has been seepage into the sand,
which could kill the mangroves.
"This has to be monitored over a long
term basis," Bachan explained.
He said there was no need to call in
foreign environmentalists to monitor the
impact, adding the EMA will make a fair
and balanced statement and will recom-
mend remedial action as needed.
In December 17, Petrotrin experienced
a rupture on its No 10 sea line spilling
7,453 barrels of fuel oil into the sea. Several
areas including Queen beach, Station
beach, Coffee beach and Brighton were
affected by the spill. This was followed
by ten other spills. The company was
subsequently fined $20 million by the
Monday, October 6, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
Prison officer Wendy
Brewster, who suffered
benzene poisoning in the
wake of the August
Petrotrin oil spill in
Marabella, remains hos-
pitalised at the San Fer-
nando Teaching hospital.
Speaking to the T&T
Guardian yesterday, Brew-
ster said her blood sugar
levels were high and she
still had difficulty breath-
"I cannot smell gas or
Right now I am not feeling
too well," Brewster said.
She added that nobody
from Petrotrin has con-
tacted her since she was
hospitalised last week.
"Today they put me on
the nebulizer. I understand
that they want to do some
more blood tests," she said.
Brewster and her three
children were taken to the
hospital last Monday and
treated for the poisoning,
two months after a
Petrotrin slop tank rup-
tured, spilling hundreds of
gallons of slop oil into the
Benzene is a clear, liq-
chemical that has a sweet
smell. Benzene poisoning
occurs when someone
swallows, breathes in, or
According to the World
exposure to this chemical
can result in a number of
and these include dizzi-
headaches and loss of
doses of the chemical can
result in vomiting, dizzi-
ness, and convulsion, and
can ultimately lead to
Brewster said she fell ill
two Fridays ago.
Her children have since
been discharged but are
now staying with relatives
because they fear going
back into the house.
The spill in Marabella
caused severe discomfort
to 200-plus residents and
cost Petrotrin at least $5
In a statement on the
matter last week, Petrotrin
said it continues to offer
medical services to people
in the Marabella commu-
nity who were impacted
by the recent slop oil leak.
The company said the
centre has been open to
the treatment of any res-
ident with symptoms that
may have been associated
with the oil leak.
In addition to treating
residents with such symp-
toms, Petrotrin said it
continues to offer baseline
screening tests to all
affected residents at its
centre on selected days.
still in hospital
EMA under fire months after oil spills
Marabella resident Wendy Brewster after she was hospitalised last week for
benzene poisoning. PHOTO: KRISTIAN DE SILVA
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