Friday, January 19, 2018

Greenpeace activist warns about oil spill disaster


skin problem: Tenisha Modeste, left, shows her skin allergy to Mike Singh, region co-ordinator of Greenpeace International, during his visit to La Brea yesterday. —Photo: DEXTER PHILIP

Mark Fraser

The La Brea oil spill is the precursor to a mega disaster waiting to happen in the Gulf of Paria. And the Government needs to act responsibly in dealing with the major issue.

This was stated by Greenpeace International activist Mike Singh, who visited the affected residents in La Brea yesterday to begin an independent investigation into the December 18 oil spill.

Singh said the poverty-stricken families living in the coastal communities were being disrespected by the Government and State-owned Petrotrin.

He was speaking to the media during his visit at Coffee Beach, La Brea. Singh was accompanied by Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union (OWTU) president Ancel Roget, La Brea MP Fitzgerald Jeffery and members of the Highway Re-Route Movement. 

Singh said the State-owned oil company had failed in its responsibility to the residents of La Brea. 

“If Petrotrin had committed this environment carnage in the United States or Canada the leaders would have been arrested. But I am a fervent believer that the truth will prevail and do not rest on your laurels thinking you can wish this problem away because how bad is it going to be the next time? 

“How many more pipelines in the Gulf are about to break? How do we know that tonight there is not another oil spill?” he asked.

Singh said the La Brea residents were being marginalised and disenfranchised. “I see evidence of poverty. Where is all this oil income going? Why isn’t it being plugged back into these communities to lift them out of poverty? This is their livelihood, they fish to sustain their families. Is this a death sentence?” he asked.

Singh, who lives in India and the Middle East, said he read about the oil spill in Trinidad and wanted to see the effects first hand. Singh, who arrived on Sunday, said he intends to conduct an independent investigation to submit to Greenpeace International.

He appealed to President Anthony Carmona to exercise his authority and meet with members of the OWTU to discuss the matter.

Singh said he would also hold discussions with various stakeholders to establish a local chapter of Greenpeace International in Trinidad.

Singh will participate in the OWTU’s march for justice on Friday. 

Roget accused the Government and Petrotrin of covering up the truth in the major oil spill to protect “persons in high places”. He said the level of disrespect meted out to the residents of La Brea was almost unspeakable,

“You could have had people’s lives turned upside down. Their livelihood impacted in an adverse way and nobody pays attention to that. There are a lot of medical problems and issues and complaints from residents,” he said.

Roget said documentary evidence and statements from witnesses would be handed over to Greenpeace International to conduct a proper assessment of the oil spill.

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