NINE Petrotrin employees were suspended yesterday as investigations continue into the cause of the slop oil leak at the Pointe-a-Pierre refinery.
The suspensions came five days after the State-owned oil company announced the temporary suspension of its vice-president, Refining and Marketing Mado Bachan, who has over 30 years service with the company.
Of the nine additional employees suspended, two are also in the Refining and Marketing department, Petrotrin’s manager of Corporate Communications Gillian Friday said yesterday.
All ten employees have been suspended with pay.
Friday explained the action against the employees “was not a disciplinary suspension”, but necessary for an investigation to be done without those individuals present.
On July 29 residents of Marabella began complaining that fumes from the oil spill in the Guaracara River were affecting them. More than 200 residents of Silk Cotton Drive, Battoo Avenue and surrounding streets have sought medical treatment for burning eyes, nose, and ears, tightness in their chests, breathing difficulties, nausea and dizziness.
Petrotrin has since revealed that an oil leak was discovered on Tank MP6, which was used to store slop oil in the refinery at Pointe-a-Pierre, and while much of the slop oil was contained within the refinery compound, an estimated 5,000 barrels seeped into the Guaracara River.
Petrotrin president Khalid Hassanali said the clean-up operations and assistance to residents are expected to cost the State-owned oil company at least $5 million.
Minister of Energy and Energy Affairs Kevin Ramnarine and the Minister of Labour and Member of Parliament for Pointe-a-Pierre Errol McLeod, visited the Marabella community yesterday to review Petrotrin’s clean-up operations.
The company release stated that the visit followed a meeting with Petrotrin’s chairman Lindsay Gillette, Hassanali and other company officials at its administrative headquarters at Pointe-a-Pierre “where they were once again provided with a status update on our clean-up and recovery activities, community outreach efforts and preliminary investigations”.
Friday also said Petrotrin officials are expected to meet today with a five-member committee established to represent the residents of the Marabella community impacted by the leak.