Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : January 14th 2014 Contents A23
Tuesday, January 14, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
Seismic surveys are used to
explore for oil and gas. They
involve repeated build up and
discharge, every ten seconds, of
sub-sea, high pressure air
"explosions," 24 hours a day, over
a period of months.
These discharges cause vibra-
tions which penetrate the sea bed
and propagate great distances
through the ocean. Marine life
close to the seismic bombs can
be damaged. It is lethal to
spawning fish. Consequently,
hydrocarbon exploration impacts
heavily on commercial fisheries
and the lives and well-being of
The Environmental Manage-
ment Authority (EMA) chooses
not to regulate the seismic sur-
veys and in doing so, violates the
Environmental Act. This means
that companies are not required
to collect and submit basic data
on the social and environmental
impacts of the surveys.
The Ministry of Energy sup-
ports the EMA as the energy
sector in their view, should
by such concerns. Their focus is
petro-dollar based economic
activity and not integrated natu-
ral resource management.
Foreign oil/gas companies are
indeed pleased because back
home they would be obligated to
assess risks and impacts when
conducting seismic surveys. Max-
imising profit is the bottom line
Petrotrin s oil spill demon-
strates clearly the unregulated
nature of the energy sector.
There are no real contingency
plans in place to respond imme-
diately to serious spills. There is
no in-house technical or man-
agement capacity, or infrastruc-
ture on-island, to cope with
what has happened in La Brea
and environs. The highest
response level of government s
existing contingency plan is to
call for outside help!
The Guardian Newspaper broke
the story of Petrotrin s ageing
and ailing infrastructure ripe for
leaks and blow outs---the result
of 17 years of negligence. This
means a systemic failure at rou-
tine infrastructure maintenance.
A past Minister of Energy (PNM)
claims to have been aware of the
problem and chose to focus on
refinery upgrades. This extraordi-
nary admission makes clear that
negligence and the preference for
unregulated resource extraction,
crosses party lines!
The Ministry of Energy (MOE)
is responsible for granting mining
licences to quarry operators. Here
too, the MOE prefers unregulated
licencing. Little interest is paid to
social and environmental con-
cerns. At the beginning of 2013,
the MOE hired a foreign compa-
ny to carry out a Strategic Envi-
ronmental Impact Assessment
Report (SEIA) which recommend-
ed expansion and designation of
mining zones (quarry areas). Only
quarry owners were consulted.
No information on social impacts
that would have been gathered
through community engagement
was considered "strategic"
enough to inform the report. The
SEIA process was carried out in
secret and presented to the pub-
lic after it was complete.
Interestingly, the Terms of Ref-
erence for the SEIA were devel-
oped under the PNM. The
requirement for community con-
sultations was removed when the
contract was awarded by the PP
to the UK consultant. Unregulat-
ed quarrying is disastrous for the
Northern range where 80 per
cent of our naturally occurring
drinking water originates.
So the connection is that
resource extraction, whether it is
oil or gas or aggregate, on-land
or off-shore, is unregulated. This
demonstrates an absence of
meaningful social and environ-
mental values in the market
place. In the face of global break-
down of climate and ecological
systems, and the urgent need
resource security across the
board, we in T&T are taking a
"casually catastrophic" approach
to our own development.
CONNECTION BETWEEN OIL SPILLS, SEISMIC SURVEYS AND MINING?
Residents in Charleston, West Virginia, continue to arrive at distribution centres to load up on bottled
water Sunday, after a chemical spill Thursday in the Elk River that has contaminated the public water
supply in nine counties. Frustration is mounting for many of the 300,000 West Virginia residents who've
gone for days without clean tap water. AP PHOTO
You can choose how
you live your life
Your quality of life simply depends on your
area of focus. You can choose to focus on the
fact that there have been 23 murders in 11
days and allow that to fuel fears and anxiety
in your life or you can make a different choice.
You can choose to fuel your life with the posi-
tives which are also taking place on a daily
basis and generate feelings of security and a
sound base for healthy balanced development.
For instance how many babies have been
born in the first 11 days of the year? With
each birth there is new hope for the future.
How many people are learning new skills,
being promoted, experiencing love for the first
time, moving into new homes, recovering from
illnesses and so on.
I am sure that when we look around in our
communities we can all find examples of peo-
ple who are excelling sometimes against great
odds and whose examples are inspiring to us
in many ways.
I choose to fuel my life with energies that
are positive and empowering. On the scale of
life in T&T at this time the positives by far out-
weigh the negatives. I choose to remain on the
winning side. Only you can make your choice.
Crime needs to be
We are a corrupt people who,
having created a corrupt society,
fear that we may be consumed by
the current wave of seemingly in-
There are those among us also
who believe that it is "bandits
killing bandits" and as such they
are insulated from the violence.
Hopefully, that it will happen to
the other person, they feel.
The stark reality is that it is not
bandits killing bandits but humans
killing other human beings. We
created this nightmare and we
have to dismantle it.
There are a few things we
should do to achieve this:
(a) depoliticise crime. The fight
against crime is the responsibility
of every citizen; and
(b) realise that the natural re-
sources of this nation belong to all
of its citizens and not only those
with access and influence.
Errol F Hosein,
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