Monday, February 19, 2018

Negligence at the core of spill

As a citizen of T&T, I have been haunted by the oil spills that occurred in December of last year. The visuals depicting how badly the environment, wildlife and communities were impacted was heart-rending and with so many questions, doubts and accusations and counter accusations flying from all corners. Whether it was sabotage or not, the guilty parties needed to be held accountable for the damage caused.

I was disappointed that an external investigation was not conducted into the spill and was not very hopeful that Petrotrinís internal investigations would result in any real answers.

So imagine my surprise when Petrotrin made an announcement (and a public one) over the weekend that it had concluded its investigations and had fired six employees as a result.

Keeping in mind all the company has been accused of (fairly or not), my initial reaction to the firings of six employees was one of cynicism and scepticism. In Trinidad we are known for scapegoating and lack of transparency and accountability.

After looking at what was reported in the media and the excerpts of the news conference available on the Petrotrinís website (and social media pages), I must say the company actually gave a pretty convincing rationale for why the six employees were fired. Failing to close a line that was not required and also taking hours before shutting down the system when it was discovered that something was amiss, are in fact clear cases of negligence and carelessness.

However, negligence cannot be painted as something else. No matter how the OWTU and others may spin it, the actions of those employees did play a role in what we saw at La Brea and environs.

The question to ask now is whether the company will be forthcoming with the results of its reported investigation into the six managers (surrounding issues of asset integrity).

Based on how surprisingly open the company has been thus far, I am hopeful we will be privy to the results of those investigations too.

Sean Thomas

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