Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 12th 2014 Contents A7
Tuesday, August 12, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
Even though most of the oil has been
cleaned from the Guaracara River, residents
are still complaining of pungent hydrocarbon
On July 28, caused by the July oil leak from
one of Petrotrin s tanks (MP6) at the Pointe-
Last night they were planning to hold an
emergency meeting at the Marabella Recreation
Ground. They were also expected to meet with
president general of the Oilfields Workers Trade
Union Ancel Roget.
One resident, Gillian Wickham, said although
no oil was visible on the river, the smell of the
fumes was continuing to cause distress to res-
"I really wish I could get out of here. I have
been living on the riverbank all my life. During
the day the smell is not high, but at nights we
cannot stay in the house. My brother has to
walk out the road and sit on a neighbour s steps
until the air clears," Wickham said.
She added that Petrotrin staff were continuing
to distribute cleaning products.
Another resident, Trevor Jordan, said they
were continuing negotiations with Petrotrin.
"We are still seeing black oil stains on the
vegetation but most of the oil from the river
is gone," Jordan said.
On Sunday, Minister of Energy Kevin Ram-
narine, visited the refinery.
Petrotrin, in a statement, said most of the
heavy oil had been recovered from the Guaracara
River and clean-up work had started along the
riverbank. Clean-up was also going on inside
the refinery yesterday.
An investigation into the leak is ongoing.
Nine staff members, including two managers
and the vice president of refining and marketing,
Mado Bachan, have been suspended pending
an investigation into the incident.
Residents of Coffee Beach, La Brea, fear
for their health after children have devel-
oped rashes resistant to medication and a
resident began losing hair.
They are now calling on Petrotrin to
immediately intervene and provide medical
care for affected residents since they believe
their illnesses are linked to their exposure
to the December 17, 2013 oil spills and the
chemicals used to clean it up.
This comes eight months after the com-
munity was ravaged by oil spills from
Petrotrin s Pointe-a-Pierre refinery and the
company s Point Fortin installation and four
months after dead fish began washing ashore
along Coffee Beach.
Tenesha Modeste, 27, a mother of one,
who was once proud of her lovely locks has
been forced to cover her head with a pink
head wrap after her hair began falling out
in patches over the past couple of weeks.
Yesterday Modeste, who pointed to large
bald patches on her head and a rash along
her arms and back, said doctors have not
found the reason for her hair loss.
She also said no medication was working
to give her relief from the rash which has
covered her body.
Modeste, who also lost her eyelashes, said
she has been to the La Brea Health Centre,
Point Fortin hospital and a private doctor
and no-one can tell her what is wrong with
"It started to happen when the fish start
washing up dead. I had an irritation, my
skin start to scratch and burn.
"My eyes start to swell and my throat
start to swell. Now I see my hair dropping,
is a month now. Petrotrin not coming here
"They don t have the medical centre in
Lake Asphalt they promised us," Modeste
She said her son, Israel Regis, 6, and his
cousins, have developed rashes which are
not going away.
"We not getting any relief. We want
Petrotrin to come back in here and do testing
and tell us what is going on.
"They (doctors) gave us piriton (allergy
medication) and prednisolone and it now
starting to ease up again but when the med-
ication finish it coming back," Modeste said.
Her mother, Charmaine Montano, 54,
said she had been experiencing numbness
in her hands on mornings and body pains.
"I never had that, now I am in pain every-
day," Montano said.
Yesterday discomfort and pain was etched
on the face of pensioner Errol Lee, 76, who
said his health began to deteriorate dras-
tically since May when dead fish began
washing ashore at Coffee Beach.
Lee, who was once vibrant and vocal in
the community when the December 17 spills
occurred, struggled to get off his couch and
walk to his front door. He said pain was
now his companion.
The partially blind man said Petrotrin
had turned its back on the residents and
left them to suffer.
He added: "Down here is pressure now.
I gone to all kinds of doctors and they cannot
tell me the cause.
"I went Gulf View Medical and the doctor
want me to do tests that costing $1,500.
"I am a pensioner, where I getting money?
Petrotrin said they would take care of the
residents, that was ole talk."
Tammy Montano, 29, who gave birth to
her baby daughter, Aniah, during the spill,
said she returned to the area from Tobago
three months ago and her eight-month-
old baby developed a rash.
She believes there are still chemical fumes
lingering in the atmosphere at Coffee Beach.
"She did not have any problems, as soon
as we come back here she getting rashes,"
Contacted for comment Joy Antoine, act-
ing head publications and productions at
Petrotrin, said via e-mail, that the concerns
raised by residents have been passed to the
company s medical team for its attention.
Public Services Association
(PSA) president Watson Duke
is expected to address protest-
ing Judiciary workers in front
of the San Fernando Magis-
trates Court today.
Since the court administra-
tive staff walked off the job
because of health and safety
concerns last week Tuesday,
they have not returned to work.
Last Friday judiciary officials,
PSA members and Occupa-
tional Health and Safety
Authority officials toured cer-
tain areas of the courthouse.
The T&T Guardian was told
that the OSHA has since given
the Judiciary 21 days to address
health and safety issues at the
courthouse. So far, spraying for
mosquitoes and air-quality
testing have been conducted
at the building.
Because of the critical staff
shortage, the Judiciary has been
forced to source manpower
from other court houses. Calls
to Duke s cellphone went unan-
Hair loss and rashes
still after oil spills
La Brea residents:
Judiciary gets 21 days to fix South court
Marabella residents complain
Oil almost gone
but fumes remain
Errol Lee, 76, of Coffee Beach, La Brea, struggled to stand on his doorstep yesterday. He is
blaming his exposure to last December's oil spill for his health woes, which includes severe
body pains. Inset: Resident Tenesha Modeste, 27, shows a portion of her hair which has
fallen out. She is blaming her hair loss and body rash to exposure to last December's oil
spills. PHOTOS: TONY HOWELL
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