Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 10th 2014 Contents A8
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The Environmental Management
Authority (EMA) has finally completed
its report into the December 17 oil spill
in the southern peninsula.
The Sunday Guardian has learned
that the report was submitted to Min-
ister of Water Resources and the Envi-
ronment Ganga Singh.
Singh, the Sunday Guardian under-
stands, has already placed it before
Cabinet has given Energy Minister
Kevin Ramnarine two weeks to respond
to the report. That two-week period
ended on Friday.
When contacted for comment on
Thursday, Singh said he could not
divulge details of the findings until
He confirmed, however, that Ram-
narine had two weeks to give a
response, the deadline for which was
Head of the EMA Dr Allan Bachan
confirmed that the report was handed
over to Singh. He too could not reveal
details as the matter is currently before
The Sunday Guardian understands
that the EMA is currently exploring its
options with regard to companies that
violate the existing environmental laws.
The EMA has also tabled several leg-
islative changes which are expected to
receive governmental approval at the
end of the month.
This report comes even as residents
in Guaracara are battling another spill
from the same company, state-owned
EMA completes report on December 17 oil spill
...Cabinet gives Energy Minister two weeks to respond
Marabella residents yesterday
complained of pungent fumes
from the oil-contaminated
Guaracara river caused by the
recent slop oil leak at the Pointe-
One resident, Alona Wickham,
said the fumes stayed for more than
"It was impossible to breathe.
They are saying that they are clean-
ing the river but it is still affecting
us," Wickham said.
Another resident, Cori Green,
said discussions are continuing with
Petrotrin about the spill. Only a few
residents have been relocated tem-
porarily from the area and are stay-
ing at a nearby guest house.
Meanwhile, Petrotrin s manager
of corporate communications Gillian
Friday said she attended a com-
munity meeting yesterday but was
unaware that more fumes had
affected residents. So far, nine work-
ers, including three senior officials,
have been suspended. In a state-
ment yesterday Petrotrin said clean-
ing agents and information leaflets
were distributed to residents yes-
"The cleaning agents are to be
used at the homes of the residents
to support Petrotrin s continued
clean-up and recovery efforts to
remove the slop oil from the
Guaracara River and eliminate all
lingering odours," Petrotrin said.
The company said clean-up
efforts and medical aid are still being
provided to the residents. The spill
caused severe discomfort to 200-
plus residents and is expected to
cost Petrotrin at least $5 million.
The Environmental Management
Authority said it cannot take any
action against Petrotrin.
The Authority says it is planning
to go to Cabinet to get resources
for the rehabilitation of the
Guaracara River, which flows into
the Gulf of Paria.
Residents complain of fumes
The Sunday Guardian obtained another
detailed report, this time into the most
recent oil leak into the Guaracara River.
The report suggests that the leak could
have been contained before polluting the
Preliminary water testing at that river
has also unearthed evidence that
industrial dumping has been taking place
for over 60 years, according to the EMA.
The leak, which emanated from the
MP6 tank in Petrotrin's Pointe-a-Pierre
facility, passed through two checkpoints
without any red flags being raised, and
continued its slow, steady progress to the
The report also points to maintenance
red flags raised by an inspection company
back in 2010 which highlighted the leak
at the MP6 storage tank.
An internal Petrotrin document,
entitled Instructions To Inspectors,
advises that three huge tanks be checked
according to the substance they
The MP6 tank, built in 1965, was for
storing non-corrosive lube oil and needed
a visual test every year, an ultrasonic test
every eight years and a full internal check
every 15 years.
However, the tank did not store lube oil
as expected but contained more corrosive
slop oil. Slop oil required a very different
inspection timeline, the report stated.
Tanks containing slop oil, as the MP6
did, need more frequent checks: A visual
check every year, an ultrasonic test every
two years, and a full internal check over
The last full examination of MP6
occurred back in 1991 with a
recommendation that the next external
examination take place in 1992, an
ultrasonic in 1996, and a full check by
The Sunday Guardian also obtained
photographs of the MP6 tank storage
area on July 30, two days after oil was
reportedly spotted in the Guaracara River.
The Sunday Guardian further obtained
a copy of the Refining & Marketing and
Trading Daily Operations Report for the
day ending July 30, 2014, which notes
that the workers tried to pump some of
the slop from the heavily leaking MP6
into the nearby MP5.
"Tanks base ruptured. Some oil
pumped to MP5. Remainder being
recovered from environment."
President general of the Oilfields
Workers Trade Union Ancel Roget is
adamant that this new leak could have
In an interview with the Sunday
Guardian on Wednesday, Roget said it
was "galling" that Petrotrin did not learn
anything from the December 17 oil spill.
Petrotrin's vice president of refining
and marketing Mado Bachan has been
suspended pending the investigation,
along with nine Petrotrin employees.
The Sunday Guardian tried to reach
Petrotrin's manager of communications,
Gillian Friday, on her cellphone on Friday,
but got no response.
SPILL COULD HAVE BEEN CONTAINED
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