Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : December 31st 2013 Contents A5
Tuesday, December 31, 2013 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
In what could be described
as a communications faux pas
Energy Minister Kevin Ram-
narine yesterday denied the
discovery of any new oil spills
in the Gulf of Paria but just two
hours later Petrotrin s chair-
man Lindsay Gillette
announced the discovery of an
11th oil spill off a Trinmar plat-
Yesterday the minister met
with members of the media at
Point Saube beach, La Brea,
where he toured clean-up oper-
ations, co-ordinated by Petrotrin
and private contractors Kaizen
and US-based firm Oil Spill
Ramnarine denied reports of
a new oil spill, which he said
had surfaced on social network-
ing site Facebook.
"There were reports on Face-
book being posted that fresh oil
was coming in. The first ques-
tion I asked when I came here
was there fresh oil coming in?
And the answer was no," he said.
The minister said the oil
which had been seen coming in
from the sea was oil that had
been disturbed from other oper-
ations along the coastline.
He said Point Saube was not
the only operation along the
"There are other operations
taking place up the coastline up
from this point and that is dis-
placing oil on the coastline and
the current is pulling it back out
and bringing it back to this
point. It may appear like (fresh
oil) but this is not so," he said.
The minister added he did an
aerial survey and "again we
observed that there was no new
oil coming in this morning."
The oil spills started in La Brea
on December 17 and has con-
tinued to wreak havoc in the
Gulf of Paria and fishing com-
munities along the southwestern
Ramnarine said 80 per cent
of the oil had been cleaned up
But fishermen disputed that
figure. In fact, they said yester-
day the oil spill was spreading
into the Aripero mangrove.
Petrotrin site commander at
Point Saube, Leeloy Chinwing
said the company was monitor-
ing the spill and was taking steps
to protect the mangrove.
He said 65 resident commu-
nity workers had been hired to
assist in clean-up operations at
Point Saube and at Carat Shed
beach they have hired ten.
He said at Coffee Beach 28
community workers had been
engaged by the contractors,
Tiger Tanks, in clean up oper-
Ramnarine said an inter-min-
isterial committee would be set
up to address the concerns of
the fisherfolk affected by the
US oil spill expert Brian Gove says
the oil spill ravaging the southwestern
coastline is "challenging" and clean-
up operations may take up to three
Yesterday Gove, technical adviser
on health and safety at Oil Spill
Response Ltd, Florida, USA, together
with Energy Minister Kevin Ramnar-
ine, toured clean-up operations at Point
Saube, La Brea, where the major mop-
ping up efforts have been concentrat-
ed.The US expert said the location of
the oil spill had made cleaning up a
bit difficult for his team, contractors
"This one is a little bit challenging
in that we do not have access. We only
have the one access road and it s quite
a bit of oil for up to a two-mile stretch.
Usually we are lucky to have a little
more access," he said.
Gove said they have a slight advan-
tage at Point Saube since the current
was bringing the oil to that area which
was making it easier for the workers
to collect it.
"We are taking advantage of the nat-
ural collection point," he said.
Last week Petrotrin estimated clean-
up operations would take at least a
week but yesterday Gove revised the
timeframe. He said it would take two
weeks for heavy cleaning of the oil and
three months for the light cleaning.
Ramnarine, addressing reporters
after the tour, agreed with Gove s time-
frame. He said the limited access roads
to the beach "affect the ability to get
equipment, to mobilise equipment to
He assured that heavy equipment,
such as backhoes and excavators, were
being brought to the areas inaccessible
by road by being driven up the coast-
line along the beach.
Gove said at present the oil booms
(plastic barriers) placed at Point Saube
and at Coffee Beach "have been work-
ing effectively, but booms do need to
be maintained so it does change with
"We have a higher tide coming in
this evening (yesterday) and we will
have to monitor that but we have addi-
tional booms on standby."
Yesterday Ramnarine said an Insti-
tute of Marine Affairs preliminary
report had said the oil found at La Brea
is Bunker C, a product of the refining
He said Bunker C fuel had similar
characteristics to crude oil and admit-
ted that "both crude oil and Bunker
C can be problematic."
Ramnarine said a report would be
done on the oil spill, which he said
was a lesson for Petrotrin, and the rec-
ommendations from that experience
would assist in improving the Nation-
al Oil Spill Contingency Plan.
Ramnarine unaware of latest spill
Three months to clean
oil spills, says US expert
Workers clean up the oil spill near a home at Coffee Beach, La Brea, yesterday.
PHOTO: RISHI RAGOONATH
A total of 28 people have been
treated for oil spill related illness
in the La Brea community over
the past 13 days.
This comes after state-owned
oil and gas company Petrotrin
detected the first of 11 oil spills
in the southern peninsula on
The first 25 people were
attended by doctors and medical
personnel provided by the com-
pany up until last Friday.
Over the weekend one asth-
matic child and an elderly couple
were sent to the hospital to
Most of the people who fell ill
were children and the elderly.
Despite that and another leak
discovered on the Trinity Platform
on Sunday night, Petrotrin chair-
man Lindsay Gillette said the sit-
uation was under control.
A total of 11 leaks, both on land
and offshore, have been discov-
ered since December 17, five at
Petrotrin locations, five at Trinity
exploration locations and one at
a Neal and Massy site, Moruga.
"As of today, we feel we have
the whole situation under control
and our clean-up will be com-
pleted within two weeks," Gillette
Petrotrin president Khalid Has-
sanali said while all the leaks had
already been fixed, the company
had sent samples abroad to test
to determine the source of the
oil.Hassanali said more than any-
thing else, the company was con-
cerned about the communities
affected, the security and the
"We have provided medical
care for those who needed it,
meals for those who couldn t cook
and we will continue to do those
The company is still investi-
gating how the leaks occurred
and though he would not say the
word sabotage, Hassanali said
most of the incidents were highly
Petrotrin is set to double the
amount of labour being used to
clean up the affected areas.
The company, which hired 100
La Brea residents as well as con-
tractors from the area, announced
yesterday it would increase the
number to 200.
The company also said it would
increase the heavy equipment
used to speed up the exercise, the
cost of which is estimated at $5
"Within the next few days the
heavy work will alleviate some of
the discomfort that has been
caused in La Brea," Hassanali said.
Also within the next three days,
residents will be allowed to cook
their own meals.
Residents were told not to use
their stoves and were provided
with meals by the company,
though several residents com-
plained about the quality of the
Though Petrotrin says most of
the clean-up on beaches was near
completion, residual oil north of
La Brea would take two weeks to
Petrotrin s health, safety and
environment manager Shyam
Dyal said all of the areas south
of La Brea, including south of
Point Fortin, Point Coco beach,
John Williams beach front areas,
Granville beach and Cedros beach
were 100 per cent completed to
This means the beaches were
clear of visible oil and water qual-
ity met Environmental Manage-
ment Authority (EMA) standards.
He said work was still going
on at Unity beach but was 90 per
The Carat Shed area in La Brea
was said to be 85 per cent com-
plete and within a day or two
clean-up exercises in Coffee
Beach were expected to be com-
"We will continue to monitor
to ensure that any oil gets to the
beach will be managed," Dyal said.
Water currents could move the
oil and allow it to recontaminate
the other beaches.
Another oil leak
Links Archive December 30th 2013 January 1st 2014 Navigation Previous Page Next Page