Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 6th 2014 Contents A8
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Wednesday, August 6, 2014
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A Marabella man and two chil-
dren fell ill and had to be taken
away by ambulance yesterday dur-
ing a protest by people affected by
last Tuesday s oil leak.
Akemo Cobom, 27, of Silk Cotton
Road, Marabella, collapsed and was
helped into an ambulance before
being taken to the Augustus Long
Hospital with respiratory problems.
The two children, whose names
were not given, also complained of
feeling unwell and were also taken
Yesterday Marabella resident
Corey Green said Cobom and the
two children had complained of feel-
ing upset before they left their homes
to join fellow residents outside
Petrotrin s office at the Pointe-a-
Shortly after 11 am the emergency
health services were contacted to
take Cobom and the children away
when their condition deteriorated
after being exposed to the scorching
Green said: "Akemo said he was
not feeling well since this morning.
I telling him to go to the hospital
but he wanted to come out in the
protest but he start to feel more bad
when he come out in the protest
and he collapse.
"Right now residents say they
will continue to protest until
Petrotrin take them seriously. People
Almost 50 residents, led by Oil-
fields Workers Trade Union
(OWTU) president general Ancel
Roget, began protesting at 8.30 am.
Some marched from their Marabella
homes to the roundabout carrying
placards, chanting and beating buck-
ets.They claimed Petrotrin was not
addressing their health concerns and
called for compensation and relo-
cation in the wake of last Tuesday s
oil leak at the Pointe-a-Pierre refin-
ery.Some 17,000 barrels of slop oil
escaped from a tank when it rup-
tured. An estimated 5,000 barrels
leaked into the Guaracara River caus-
ing distress to Marabella residents.
Yesterday residents chanted "we
want justice, we want justice"
under the watchful eyes of Petrotrin
There were some tense moments
when the officers formed a chain
around the residents to keep them
from blocking the entrance to
Petrotrin s office.
Roget and his executive members
described that as intimidation and
bullying and they too formed a
human barrier to allow the protest
to continue unhindered. Police offi-
cers were also present.
Roget, addressing residents, said:
"We are prepared to deal with the
police. We are not breaking any law.
We are peacefully protesting. We
came here with one thing in mind
that is to continue to highlight the
plight of the villagers and the fence-
line community residents."
Green said residents were upset
that although they were outside
Petrotrin s gate for more than three
hours, no one from the company
came out to meet with them.
"Somebody could have come out
and meet with the residents and
assure them that they are taking
step to address their health concerns.
All they want is assurance and they
not doing that right now. They need
to assure people that their health is
important to them but right now
they just covering up," Green said.
He also alleged that he and his
wife were offered $30,000 for med-
ical expenses by a company official
to keep quiet and not protest.
"That is for she to go to Augus-
tus Long until she have the baby.
Nine more Petrotrin employees,
seven of whom are Oilfields Work-
ers Tade Union (OWTU) members,
are expected to get suspension
notices today as investigations into
last week s oil leak at the Pointe-
a-Pierre refinery continue.
The T&T Guardian understands
that the nine employees, including
supervisors, will be suspended with
Last week Tuesday one of
Petrotrin s tank (MP6) ruptured at
the Pointe-a-Pierre refinery, leading
to some 17,000 barrels of slop oil
escaping the tank and 5,000 barrels
ending up in the nearby Guaracara
Last evening a well placed source
confirmed the suspension notices
would be served on the employees
within 12 hours.
On Saturday Petrotrin chairman
Lindsay Gillette announced the
immediate suspension of Mado
Bachan, vice-president of refining
and marketing, and said more sus-
pensions were to follow, especially
after a 2010 inspection report had
identified the MP6 was leaking but
no steps were taken, in four years,
to fix the problem.
The report flagging the leaking
tank, according to Petrotrin, was
not entered into its computerised
monitoring system for action.
9 more workers face suspension
Petrotrin: Progress in clean-up
Today the oil spill clean-up oper-
ations entered their tenth day and
Petrotrin, in a media release last
evening, said its team "is making
progress in clean-up and recovery
efforts at the Pointe-a-Pierre refin-
ery and along the Guaracara River."
The release added: "We continue
to work around-the-clock to
remove the slop oil that has seeped
into the river."
announced the appointment of
services as an independent auditor
to investigate the matter and make
Yesterday evening Petrotrin said
in its release the auditors had begun
work at the state-run oil company
The company also announced
that it had closed its emergency
shelter at the Marabella North Gov-
ernment Primary School as few
people had been using it.
But the company would con-
tinue to provide emergency health
services at the Augustus Long Hos-
pital, the release said
It added that representatives of
its corporate communications and
HSE departments continued to
visit the affected community and
were "interacting with the resi-
dents." ---Reshma Ragoonath
Drama at oil leak protest
Petrotrin security officers stand guard as residents of Silk Cotton Road, Marabella, gathered
outside the company's headquarters at Pointe-a-Pierre demanding relocation and
compensation following last Tuesday's oil leak. PHOTOS: RISHI RAGOONATH
Labour Minister Errol Mc
Leod, was expected to meet
with residents yesterday at
8.30 am, according to a
media notice issued on
The notice was recalled
on Monday evening. No
reason was given for the
Since last week residents
have been complaining that
Mc Leod had not visited the
area to hear their concerns
or meet with them and have
been calling on the Prime
Minister to remove him as
Roget, in a telephone
interview with the T&T
Guardian, said the incident
underscored what the
residents have been
complaining about, that
their lives were in danger.
"Their lives are clearly in
jeopardy and in danger
and it is painfully evident
that Petrotrin is not doing
nearly enough to address
their concerns. That is
why this event took place.
We will continue to
highlight these issues.
They have a responsibility
to the communities," he
He said it was also of
concern that the
regulatory bodies, such as
and the Occupation Health
and Safety Authority
(OSH), were not speaking
out.He said there appeared
to be "collusion" among
those bodies and "a
common interest and has
nothing to do with the
environment and health of
Akemo Cobom leads Silk Cotton Road, Marabella
residents during a protest outside Petrotrin's
headquarters in Pointe-a-Pierre yesterday.
I not standing for that. My wife say
she not trusting that to go to Augus-
tus Long so they will not tell us if
anything is wrong with the baby,"
Roget said yesterday s protest
action was successful but hinted at
further action by the union, though
he did not divulge what it might be.
He warned residents that Petrotrin
would try to bribe its way through
the oil leak fallout and the many
health problems the residents now
Allister Cephas, spokesman for the
residents, said there had been no
improvement in their living condi-
tions and people were still falling ill.
"People health conditions are the
same way. They are not putting any
health plans in place. They have not
evacuated anyone. The condition still
as it is.
"People getting up with diarrhoea,
swollen faces and so on. We need
justice. Justice must be served to the
poor people, the poorer class of peo-
ple, especially Marabella," Cephas
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