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Saturday 20 January 2018

Mystery oil spill hits south fishermen

AN OIL spill at Kings Wharf, San Fernando, yesterday left scores of fishermen counting their losses as thousands of fishes, nets and their clothing were covered in what is suspected to be crude oil.

Frustrated fishermen said the oil began to surface at sea on Monday morning and continued to worsen late yesterday evening.

“We came out as normal Monday morning to fish. Some of us went out into the waters and were forced to turn back. We could not continue to fish, because our entire boat was covered with black oil and the fishes we caught were also covered in oil..” fisherman Aziz Mohammed, 39, of Vesingny explained.

He further explained that he and all other fishermen were forced to pack up and return home. “We had to return home, and now to come back today (Tuesday) and the situation is worse. It is like more oil has surfaced. Look at my clothes, it is covered in black oil.” Mohammed, said.

He said he and other fishermen spent the day cleaning out the oil. “We spent the day cleaning out the oil which was very difficult. We’re using kerosene on the boats and soaking the nets in it, but some of that oil like it stains. It is not coming out at all.” he said.

Mohammed said fishes were also dying in the water. “Some of the fishes we caught were already dead, and others were covered in oil. We cannot sell this, so we had to throw away all the fishes we caught, and so we have been doing for the past week.” he explained.

Fishermen however, are claiming that the oil was emanating from the LABDICO Industrial near La Brea as the direction of the wind had recently changed its course to the western direction. “There is a leak somewhere underground at LABDICO, and due to the west winds the oil has surfaced in South instead of Point Fortin,” the fisherman said.

Meanwhile, along the Guapo/Cap-de-Ville main road in Point Fortin, residents awoke to the sight of black oil surrounding a fire hydrant. The residents in the area said yesterday was not the first time oil has surfaced above. “For years this has been happening at that particular location. The oil always comes up and forms a pool, then it is covered with sand and the oil slowly disappears.”the resident said. The area was yesterday cordoned off with caution tape.

Calls to officials at the cooperate communications department Petrotrin Oil Company went unanswered.

Meanwhile, at the Port-of-Spain port in the north, Coastguard officials yesterday said they had no knowledge of another reported oil spill.

The oil spill blackened a large portion of the sea in the Gulf of Paria, just off the western section of the port at about 10 am yesterday.

A three-paragraph release from the port’s public relations officer, Betty-Ann Gibbons said the Environmental Management Authority (EMA) and the Coastguard had been notified of the oil spill. But the Coastguard has denied this.

“We have no information. Nobody called us about that,” a Coastguard official said. “I don’t know why they (Port) said that we had been notified.”

Up until news time last evening, details as to what caused the oil spill in the Port-of-Spain port remained unclear.

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