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100 barrels of oil collected from Rancho Quemado

By Sue-Ann Wayow sue-ann.wayow@trinidadexpress.com

OVER 100 barrels of oil have been recovered from the spill at Rancho Quemado, Erin, during a clean-up operation that continues today.

A contractor hired by Petrotrin to conduct the operations said the plugs on two tanks were left open, allowing the oil to spill. 

The sabotage was confirmed yesterday by Energy Minister Kevin Ramnarine. A criminal investigation is now under way.

The discovery was made on Saturday morning at the Trinity Oil facility, when Petrotrin officials went  to check on the well.

The oil was suctioned using two tankers and taken to another location, the contractor said.

Oil worker Gerard Coutou, a resident of Rancho Quemado, said on Saturday morning he was called out to work around 9 a.m. He said the oil flowed through land used for cocoa, and into a river and nearby pond.

Coutou said: “It was a real mess. It was really terrible. However, nobody was really affected. We worked whole day cleaning up the spill. We finish work till it was dark. Petrotrin handled the situation well. They wanted to clean up the area before rain started to fall because then it would have gotten worse.”

The contractor said the cost of the clean-up operations was not yet determined since it was still ongoing.

Petrotrin’s president, Khalid Hassanali, said yesterday investigations were ongoing and he was focusing on the clean-up operations and the affected communities.

However, at yesterday’s post-Cabinet press briefing, Energy Minister Kevin Ramnarine said the valves that were turned on could only have been opened using a special tool, and that a report had been made to the police. 

Regarding four other oil leaks which have caused major environmental damage between La Brea and Cedros, Ramnarine said the source of the spills are still unknown.

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