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Fishermen: Polluted waters all the time

By Carolyn Kissoon carolyn.kissoon@trinidadexpress.com

Fishermen operating in the Gulf of Paria have appealed to the management of State-owned oil company Petrotrin to become more compassionate.
President of the Claxton Bay Fishing Association, Kishore Boodram, said the oil spills severely affect fishermen working in the waters off Petrotrin’s refinery and operations. He said at least one fisherman suffered losses when his net dragged in thick, black crude oil last week.
“We don’t know whether it is a new oil spill or oil that was already in the water from the old spills. But fishermen experience polluted waters all the time. It is only because of this disaster in La Brea that the public is becoming aware of what goes on,” he said.
Boodram said the Guaracara River, which runs alongside Petrotrin’s Pointe-a-Pierre refinery, deposits oil into the Gulf of Paria.
“This is something that happens all the time. Petrotrin needs to invest in their fenceline communities. People live with this pollution everyday,” he said.
The fishermen claimed over the weekend that another oil spill had occurred in the Gulf of Paria, after a fishing vessel and net were destroyed.
Fisherman Deopersad Manoo said he cast his net off the Gulf coast in San Fernando around 5 p.m. last Friday and two hours later he saw a blanket of black oil. His net, valued at $20,000, was destroyed.
Manoo said he expected compensation for his losses.
Petrotrin officials stated yesterday that there were no new oil spills. The company reported a series of oil spills in the Gulf of Paria in December.
Thick, black crude washed ashore on beaches along the southwestern peninsula.
Coffee Beach, La Brea was the worst affected area, where oil stained the coastline. Clean-up operations continued for a month, with residents hired by private contractors to mop up the oil.
Energy Minister Kevin Ramnarine said $20 million was spent in cleaning up the spills.
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