THERE are 42 tanks at Petrotrin’s Pointe-a-Pierre refinery deemed high-risk and in urgent need of attention, says president general of the Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union (OWTU) Ancel Roget.
And he said although the MP6 tank was not on that list, it should have been properly maintained and upgraded since the last visual inspection in 2010 showed leakage.
Roget was speaking during a press conference held yesterday at OWTU’s head office in San Fernando.
On Tuesday, Petrotrin reported a leak from the MP6 tank which resulted in the loss of more than 17,000 barrels of oil some of which flowed into the Guaracara River affecting residents in Marabella.
Roget claimed: “On the morning of Wednesday, the top management of Petrotrin ordered their armed security to go to the vaults of the inspection department, and to remove all the records pertaining to the specific tank that ruptured the day before. They are, as we speak, cooking the books to come out with a particular type of PR (Public Relations) spin that would suggest they are not responsible and that the disaster could not have been prevented. There can be nothing further from the truth, this could have been prevented.”
Copies of those reports he claimed were obtained by the OTWU which he showed to the media.
The reports stated that in 2010, a visual inspection was conducted and there was “product seepage on eastern end.”
The last time the tank was thoroughly inspected was in 1991, Roget claimed.
He said: “The visual inspection in 2010 said there was minor seepage. No corrective action was taken from 2010 to Tuesday 29, July 2014. So what was minor certainly over a period of four years would have developed intro something major.”
According to company’s general instructions, Roget said tanks with slop oil must have a visual inspection every year, ultrasonic every year and full internal inspection every two years.
Slop is unused gasoline, fuel oils, waste materials, hydrocarbons and other related substances.
He also claimed the tank was not initially designed to hold slop oil but another oil product.
Roget claimed that a tank integrity assessment was conducted in 2009 and a Shell Global report revealed that 42 tanks were in urgent need of repair.
The OWTU again called for an independent public enquiry into the operations of Petrotrin, saying they received insufficient support from both President Anthony Carmona and Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar following the series of oil spills last December.
Roget said they too were to blame for the oil spill in Marabella. He said: “Politics and oil cannot mix. It is a cocktail for disaster.”
“If we do not find the root cause and take corrective action, this issue will reoccur. As we speak we are at great risk of having another disaster take place,” he said.
Workers were concerned about their safety, he said.
“We are very well coming close to the point where we would have absolutely no choice but to move ourselves from harm’s way until a proper investigation is done in the entire operations of Petrotrin. And no injunction would get us back in harm’s way in an environment where clearly the evidence continues to show on a daily basis is an unsafe and unhealthy environment,” Roget said.