Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : January 12th 2014 Contents A9
January 12, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Sunday Guardian
President of Fishermen and Friends of the Sea Gary Aboud speaks to fishermen as they attempt to stop the Sanco Star seismic ship from
conducting ocean bottom cable seismic surveys in the Gulf of Paria, yesterday. PHOTO: KRISTIAN DE SILVA
The massive oil spill in the Gulf of Paria
is believed to have spread to Patos Island,
off the coast of Venezuela.
This was revealed by president of Fishermen
and Friends of the Sea Gary Aboud, who
mounted a pre-dawn campaign to prevent
Petrotrin's 510km2 Ocean Bottom Cable (OBC)
seismic survey, currently being done in the
Gulf of Paria.
Braving possible arrests, dozens of fishermen
accompanied Aboud on his journey, saying it
was the only way to protect their livelihood.
With the National Security helicopter hov-
ering ahead, the fishermen left the Otaheite
Bay shortly after sunrise and headed towards
the Sanco Star seismic ship, stationed about
six miles off the coast of Cap-de-Ville. They
arrived around 8:25 am and were advised by
Petrotrin police to stay off the seismic zone.
The T&T Coast Guard and Air Guard also
The fishermen circled the boats for several
hours, and the Sanco Star seismic ship left
the seismic area around noon. It is uncertain
whether seismic surveys continued in the
Aboud said the seismic surveys should have
been halted until Petrotrin removes all traces
of oil from the seabed.
"Day before yesterday, we got a report in
Patos, off the coast of Venezuela, that there
was oil there. Once the oil is submerged it is
going to move. In the Gulf, the tides move in
a circular motion so it is spreading to
Venezuela," Aboud said.
"We have serious concerns about the health
of the fisheries and the long term viability of
fishing in the Gulf of Paria as a whole. This
raises a very serious concern about the liability
of Petrotrin to the nation."
"We have sent formal correspondence to
the President which has not yet arrived. This
oil spill is a national issue and one which
requires the most urgent attention, especially
for the victims of La Brea," Aboud revealed.
Efforts to contact Venezuelan Ambassador
Maria Eugenia Marcano Casado proved futile
as calls to the office went unanswered.
Aboud told the fishermen that Petrotrin's
actions were illegal.
"The seismic ship is operating outside of
the law. The EMA has created certain criteria
before Petrotrin could begin the survey and
they have not complied. The EMA is allowing
an illegality to occur. They are criminalising
the fisheries. Instead of cleaning up the spill
and sending down divers to locate the sub-
merged oil, they are contaminating our food
basket," Aboud declared.
Where is Patos Island?
Patos Island is a small uninhabited island
in the southeastern Caribbean Sea. The island
is a part of the Federal Dependencies of
Venezuela. It is located about 250 km (160 mi)
northeast of Caracas in the Golfo de Paria
(Gulf of Paria). It lies in the Boca Grande strait
of the Bocas del Dragón (Dragon's Mouth),
approximately 4 km off the coast of mainland
Venezuela and about 10 km west-south-west
The uninhabited island has an area of only
0.65 square km (0,25 square miles) with a
length of 1.1 km (0.68 mi) and 6 km (3.7 mi)
wide with the highest point reaching about
Aboud: Oil spill
spreads to Venezuela
Petrotrin is assuring that there are no
shortages of dispersants to clean the massive
oil slick which blanketed several beaches
along the south western peninsula almost
one month ago.
The company has already faced a barrage
of criticisms for its use of a highly toxic dis-
persant called Corexit A 9500, which was
flagged internationally for its toxicity and
An official of United Energy Petroleum
Services Ltd, which usually supplies disper-
sants confirmed yesterday, that it was out of
stock. However, the official said dispersants
were extremely expensive, and it was foolhardy
to stock the dispersants.
Petrotrin's Chairman Khalid Hassanali, who
toured oil slicked regions yesterday, could not
verify whether the dispersants had run short.
He directed queries to communications man-
ager Gillian Friday, who revealed that there
was no shortage. Asked to name the disper-
sant, the quantities available and the suppliers,
Friday said this was being handled by the
Environmental Management Authority.
"I cannot disclose that information. The
EMA is now over seeing clean-up operations.
They have authorised the use of certain dis-
Corporate communications officer of the
EMA, Amrita Maharaj Dube, said she would
liaise with the EMA's compliance team to
verify whether there were any impending dis-
Meanwhile, the National Oil Spill Contin-
gency Plan listed seven companies as approved
suppliers of chemical dispersants drilling
foam/dispersant, demulsifier/asphaltene dis-
persants, wax/asphaltene blockage dispersants,
paraffin Inhibitor dispersant solvent, disper-
sant thinners, and alkai detergent. The com-
panies listed were Tucker Energy Services,
Southern Chemicals Ltd, United Energy Petro-
leum Services Ltd, Adam H Equipment, N&M
Services Ltd, Interchem Ltd and M-I Trinidad
A senior official from one of the listed com-
panies said that Corexit was not the most
environmentally friendly product.
"It is very unsafe. There are other disper-
sants such as BrosPlus which is 100 percent
organic. It is a new product, environmentally
friendly, but it is not being utilised because
they just don't care about the environment."
He said Corexit was manufactured in the
United States and it was approved to be used
throughout the Caribbean despite its car-
Energy Minister Kevin Ramnarine has
revealed that close to $2.7 million in com-
pensation has already been paid to fishermen
and vendors affected by the oil spill in the
south western peninsula.
Ramnarine was responding to criticisms
that La Brea residents were not getting assis-
tance since the massive oil spill disrupted
their lives in December.
"Approximately 120 residents of La Brea
have been retained by Petrotrin and contrac-
tors for the clean-up. I am advised by
Petrotrin that to date $2, 667, 900 has been
paid out by Petrotrin, covering 236 boats and
32 vendors in various fishing villages," he said.
"There are more discussions taking place.
Hampers and food items have been distributed
between December 24 to 26."
Roget tours La Brea
However, president of the Joint Trade Union
Movement Ancel Roget, who toured La Brea
yesterday, said a proper assessment must be
done on the long term effects of the spill.
"The Government must determine what
damage has already been done, what long
term damage these residents are exposed to,
and what measures we can take now to mit-
igate that," Roget said.
He also called for an independent safety
audit of all of Petrotrin's land and marine
facilities as well as an audit of lease opera-
"We need competent people examining the
facilities in a strict, regulated manner. All
lease operators must be called in, and we
must examine what are the terms and con-
ditions under which these lease operators
function," Roget added.
Ramnarine: $2.7m paid to fishermen, vendors Several residents continued to clamour for
relocation. Jermel Pierre said, "It is degrading
how residents are being treated. Children are
falling ill, and not a single person has been
relocated," Pierre said. Anthony Mc Eachim said
Petrotrin had failed to provide proper medical
care for the residents. MP for La Brea Fitzgerald
Jeffrey said it was time the Government
declare La Brea a disaster zone and relocate all
affected residents to vacant HDC houses.
Petrotrin continued clean-up exercises at
Coffee Bay and Carrat Shed beach yesterday.
However, there was still evidence of oil at Point
RESIDENTS CLAMOUR FOR RELOCATION
Contacted yesterday, Petrotrin's corporate
communications manager Gillian Friday denied
that Petrotrin was operating illegally. She said
Petrotrin had already received clearance from the
EMA to do the surveys necessary for exploring
for oil and gas. In a release, Friday said 14 fishing
vessels surrounded the 3D Seismic vessels.
"Petrotrin's security along with the National
Coast Guard and Air Guard were on site to
ensure that the situation was managed and
controlled. The survey is being conducted in
conformance with all applicable laws and
environmental regulations. It is anticipated that
upon the successful completion of the survey, it
will redound to increased profits for the company
and its stakeholders, including the citizens of
T&T," Friday said.
PETROTRIN: WE ARE NOT
charge of clean-up
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