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La Brea fishermen, residents seek clearance

By Carolyn Kissoon carolyn.kissoon@trinidadexpress.com

La Brea fishermen are seeking clearance from oil experts on whether marine life in the Gulf of Paria may be contaminated by chemicals used in the oil spill clean-up along the south-western peninsula.

President of the La Brea Fisherfolk Association, Alvin La Borde, said yesterday that fishermen were not prepared to sell contaminated fish to consumers.

“We don’t want to take our vessels out there with that chemical in the water. We don’t want to pass the vessels on the chemical and then contaminate the fish. We don’t want to get people sick. We know about the chemical they are using to clean the oil and we want to be cautious,” he said.

The fishermen have expressed concern about the dispersant Corexit 9500, used to remove the oil from the water surface.

La Borde said fishermen were awaiting confirmation from various agencies before returning to the sea. 

Fishing vessels stained in the oil spill were cleaned last weekend.

La Borde said fishermen were pleased with the chemical used to clean the vessels. He said 28 fishing pirogues were contaminated in the oil spill.

La Brea fishermen have not returned to the sea since the oil spill on December 18.

And residents were informed yesterday that the clean-up exercise was nearing completion.

Ricardo Learmont, a resident who was hired in the clean-up exercise, said: “The work is closing off now. The beach clean-up is completed, they just have the mangrove to complete now. We are awaiting payment now and then that’s it.”

Another resident, Wendell Thomas, said he too was informed that the clean-up exercise was completed.

“I didn’t go today because they said it finished. It is not up to my standard, but if they say so... I think just a few people get called out to work today,” he said.

The Express learned that several residents have also resumed cooking in their homes, although no official clearance was given by Petrotrin and the Environmental Management Authority (EMA).

Learmont said: “Many people have started lighting their stoves again. We hope things can go back to normal and we all can live comfortable again.”

Several attempts to contact Petrotrin’s communications officials yesterday for an update on the clean-up exercise proved futile. 

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