Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 5th 2014 Contents A8
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Tuesday, August 5, 2014
Petrotrin is bracing for a mass
demonstration today outside its
offices as Marabella residents and
the Oilfields Workers Trade Union
(OWTU) unite to protest against
the company s response to last
Tuesday s oil disaster.
The residents, who will be led by
OWTU president general Ancel
Roget, have vowed to come out in
their numbers to register their dis-
pleasure at Petrotrin s alleged failure
to address their health concerns and
calls for compensation.
The residents lives were disrupted
by the oil leak last week, which hap-
pened after one of Petrotrin s tanks
(MP6), containing slop oil, ruptured
at its base. The oil escaped from the
Pointe-a-Pierre refinery and made
its way into the Guaracara River.
Yesterday the pungent smell of oil
hung in the air at Silk Cotton Road,
Sixth Street Extension and Mango
Alley, as Petrotrin workers cleaned
up the oil-stained river bank.
Roget, who met with the residents
to hear their concerns and took a
tour of affected areas in Marabella,
hinted Petrotrin employees may be
part of this morning s demonstration
"You got to leave something for
the element of surprise. We do not
want to forewarn them. What I will
say is, the employees are also at risk
of both their health and their safety,
lives and limbs," Roget said as he
addressed the media during his
meeting with the residents.
He said the situation in Marabella
was the tip of the iceberg and
"indicative what we were complain-
ing about all of the time."
People living in Marabella were at
serious risk, he said, calling for them
to be evacuated from the area imme-
diately until it was safe for them to
Hydrogen sulphide gas, which was
being emitted from the oil, he said,
"is such a tricky and dangerous gas
that when you cannot smell it again,
that is when it is most dangerous.
"When you become accustomed
to it, that is when it is most deadly
and therefore the residents who they
left in the environment continue to
be a risk," he said.
The OWTU, he said, was
demanding that residents be respect-
ed and relocated, "as they will do
any other citizen."
He said for the residents to get
that type of respect they had to show
and demand that they deserved it,
as he called on them to join the
OWTU and stage a mass demon-
stration at Petrotrin s administration
building at the Pointe-a-Pierre
That, he said, was the first step.
"If they did not respond adequate-
ly, we are going to take it to another
level. We are not today going to
expose what that level is.
"The OWTU has a responsibility
not just for the workers and their
pay but for all of T&T and all of
those who are in the direct impact,"
His declaration was greeted with
cheers from the residents, who are
calling for relocation.
While some of those affected by
the oil leak were squatters, Roget
said, thats should not be a matter
"These residents are human beings
deserving of proper and decent
attention and respect.
"It has nothing to do with reg-
ularisation, it has to do with human
lives and their health and the highest
level of disrespect meted out to them.
"Right now our priority is not to
check residential status as to whether
they are regularised or not," he said.
Roget dismissed Petrotrin s
planned independent probe into the
oil leak, saying he had no confidence
in any such investigation.
He also alleged that Petrotrin had
been threatening certain media hous-
es, saying it would pull its advertising
if they continued to publish adverse
reports about the state-run oil com-
Petrotrin announced last
night that it has appointed
an independent firm to
investigate the cause of the
oil leak at Pointe-a-Pierre
which spilled thousands of
barrels of slop oil into the
Guaracara River on July 29.
A release issued at 7.22 pm
ers Advisory Services Ltd had
been appointed as the inde-
The state-owned company
stated that a leak at Tank
MP6, in the Pointe-a-Pierre
refinery, led to an estimated
5,000 barrels of slop oil
seeping into the Guaracara
River. The majority of the
slop oil was contained within
A visual inspection report,
dated May 21, 2010 revealed
"minor product seepage...
settlement and bulging of
tank on eastern side."
This information was not
entered into the company s
system. The company has
since suspended its vice-
president of refining and
marketing Mado Bachan fol-
lowing the latest incident.
The company said a pre-
liminary inspection of the
collapsed bund wall following
the leak also revealed that
the bund wall was not con-
structed according to the
engineering design specifi-
In relation to its clean-up
operations, Petrotrin said it
had heightened recovery of
the residual slop oil from the
"In addition to deploying
16 booms at strategic points
along the river, the compa-
ny s oil clean- up and recov-
ery efforts include oil skim-
ming devices, vacuum trucks
and other equipment."
Mass demonstration over oil spill today
Roget: Evacuate residents
"Our 24-hour emergency
response shelter remains open
at the Marabella North
Government School," the
It says it has provided
medical attention to ten adults
and two children at its medical
outpost in the Marabella
community. In addition, two
adults and a child also received
medical attention at the
Augustus Long Hospital.
Residents with concerns are
asked to contact its
emergency hotline at 658-
0235 between 7 am and 4 pm
and 658-4200, ext 2410 after
Petrotrin president Khalid
Hassanali, contacted for a
response to the protest, said he
had no comment to make.
Hassanali, in response to
Roget's claim that Petrotrin had
threatened to withdraw
advertising from some media
houses, said: "I would be
surprised to know about that. I
do not know anything about
On Saturday Petrotrin
announced it had suspended its
vice president of refining and
marketing Mado Bachan pending
an independent investigation
into the incident.
Hassanali said on Saturday
that the 2010 report which
alerted the company to a leak in
MP 6 was never entered into the
reporting system by the relevant
It was instead found in a desk
drawer when checks were made
after the tank had ruptured.
COMPANY: NO COMMENT
Alister Cephas, of Mango Alley, Silk Cotton Drive, Marabella, displays the
medication that residents were given by Petrotrin to treat their symptoms.
Marley King and President General OWTU Ancel Roget, right, show a sample of oil collected from the Guaracara
River in Pointe-a-Pierre yesterday. PHOTO: RISHI RAGOONATH
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