Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Clean-up go-slow


ALL HANDS BUSY: Tiger Tanks contractors during the oil spill clean-up operation on Friday at the Otaheite mangrove. —Photo: DEXTER PHILIP

Mark Fraser

CLEAN-UP work in La Brea is expected to be deliberately slowed down for several hours tomorrow as children return to school following the Christmas vacation.

State oil company Petrotrin’s communications officer George Commissiong yesterday said this will be done following concerns raised by parents about heavy equipment passing through their communities.

“We are considering perhaps not having any traffic flowing through the area perhaps an hour or two early in the morning effective (tomorrow). That will take care of the children who perhaps use the roads to get to and from schools. So maybe an hour or so in the morning ... and maybe between three and four (o’clock), reduce the number of vehicles on the road,” Commissiong said.

Clean-up exercises continued in the area yesterday after oil and bunker fuel spilled in the Gulf of Paria days before Christmas and made its way ashore between La Brea and Cedros.

Yesterday, while a meeting between Petrotrin officials and residents took place at the La Brea Community Centre, trucks involved in the clean-up exercise were seen making their way along the roadway leading to Queen Beach.

Commissiong said traffic wardens are expected to be stationed in the area and he also hinted at having speed bumps installed.

“I will have to be guided there because the more humps you put is the more rocking of the trucks coming out and you might have a sort of ripple effect with more materials being displaced, so we need to look at that,” he said.

Commissiong also said the residents’ concerns about contamination of the streets will be addressed as trucks will be sprayed more often and the roadway also decontaminated three times a day of residual oil and hydrocarbons.

Work at Coffee Beach and Point Sable is also set to resume today, Commissiong said.

Clean-up work at these areas stopped earlier in the week after residents blocked the road and staged placard protests.

The Sunday Express learnt that clean-up work was stopped yesterday in Point Sable after residents blocked the roadway early in the day.

Residents had been clamouring for permanent relocation, jobs on the clean-up projects and treatment for medical ailments.

But following yesterday’s meeting, Commissiong said work in these areas is expected to resume today.

He said agreements had been reached after employment and health, safety and environmental concerns were addressed.

Resident Ralph Joseph spoke during the meeting about the health of his nine-month-old son. He said the fumes from the oil spill had caused his child to experience constipation.

Joseph also said the medical stations were left without staff and without an ambulance.

Jermel Pierre said the name and contents of the medication being given by a nurse are unknown.

“We don’t know what we taking. There is no doctor at the station. The triage system set up by Petrotrin is inadequate. What we need is relocation out of here. We do not know the long term impact it will have on us and it is three weeks now we are breathing in oil fumes,” Pierre said.

Commissiong said while the residents wanted an extension to the time medical service is provided, he needed to enquire if that was possible. 

“But failing which, we could explore having an ambulance in the community perhaps 24 hours a day so when the centre is closed at least the ambulance will be available to take anybody who needs urgent attention to our facility down at Point Fortin that runs 24/7.”

Manager of personnel operations Guneshdath Maharaj and on-scene commander Lee Loy Chin Wing also attended yesterday’s meeting.