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Saturday 20 January 2018

Oily Christmas

CONCERNED that the latest oil spill yesterday at sea near the Otaheite Fishing depot could result in a dip in fish sales, vendors through their association are calling on the authorities to compensate them for loss of earnings.

“Consumers would not want to eat the fish and this cause a decrease in sales. They would say it is contaminated and be scared to buy anything from us. And so hustlers, boat owners and vendors will be affected. The authorities must address the situation and give a loss time earnings or something,” said president of the Otaheite Vendors Association Clement Charles.

Charles recalled that at about 7 am yesterday a fisherman spotted oil floating in the waters at sea and shortly thereafter a team using, two pirogues, went out to assess the situation.

“The oil was thick and some of it reached the shorelines, mangroves and even lower down all within about a mile radius...I cannot say where it came from, but this morning we were getting a gaseous smell,” Charles added.

Although the cause of the spill was not confirmed yesterday, Charles and other fisherfolks said they believe it was a leak from facilities operated by State-owned Petrotrin. Officials from the company who were on the scene, declined to comment on the issue.

Earlier this year there was an oil spill, but affected persons were then compensated.

Meanwhile Petrotrin, in a press release issued yesterday, stated that completed clean-up operation on Wednesday of oil which had escaped into the Guaracara River, in Marabella. (See Page 18A).

Fisherman and Friends of the Sea (FFOS) head Gary Aboud, in a radio interview, called for a thorough investigation into this latest oil spill which has impacted on the natural environment and fishermen. He alleged a “boys club” arrangement between Petrotrin, the Environmental Management Authority (EMA) and the Institute of Marine Affairs (IMA) in which a “buddy system” operates to stymy independent investigations and analysis of oil spills and its impact on the environment.

Yesterday, Petrorin issued a press release confirming that it was aware of the oil spill in Otaheite Bay.

“Earlier today, Petrotrin received reports that oil had been observed at Otaheite Bay, along the South-western coast of Trinidad.

“Mindful of our corporate social responsibility as a major operator in the local energy industry, a team was dispatched to investigate these reports and test samples of the oily water.

Petrotrin’s estate police has made reports to the Oropouche Police Station and are in the process of notifying the EMA and other agencies about a nearby independent source of oily material that could have entered the sea. Investigations are continuing.

Further updates will be provided as information becomes available,” the release stated.


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