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...More workers face suspension

By Carolyn Kissoon carolyn.kissoon@trinidadexpress.com

MORE Petrotrin employees are expected to be suspended as the State-owned oil company continues its investigation into what caused a series of oil spills in the Gulf of Paria.

Petrotrin’s corporate communications manager, Gillian Friday, did not confirm the number of persons suspended yesterday but she disclosed that the numbers would increase as the investigation continues.

“The reason I am being vague with the numbers is that while the investigation takes place, the numbers will be changing. I am specifically trying to stay away from the numbers because it will change on a daily basis,” she said.

The Express understands that eight employees attached to Petrotrin’s port and marine facility at Pointe-a-Pierre were suspended pending an investigation into the oil spills.

The suspensions were related to a leak discovered on the No. 10 Sea Line at the Petrotrin, Pointe-a-Pierre, port during fuel bunkers loading operations for the barge Marabella on December 17. 

Petrotrin stated that the cause of the leak was identified to be a failed chain support not apparently defective during previous routine inspections.

Friday said the suspended employees were attached to the company’s refinery and marketing division. She said they were involved in the loading and receiving of fuel on the Marabella barge.

Petrotrin reported that there were 11 incidents of oil spills from December 17 to 29.

Four of the leaks were related to companies which have joint ventures with Petrotrin. 

The inland leak was discovered at Rancho Quemado, Erin, on December 21. The oil leak was reported by lease operators Trinity Exploration and Production, where it was discovered that two three-inch bull plugs were removed from two separate wellsite production tanks. Petrotrin stated that approximately 100 barrels of oil were discharged into the environment.

The worst affected areas were along the southwestern coastline, where small communities and beaches were plastered with oil.

Petrotrin’s senior manager, production operations, Stephen Awah, said 2,000 barrels of oil have been collected during the clean up exercise.

Minister of National Diversity and Social Integration, Rodger Samuel, will visit heritage sites affected by the oil spill today.

The sites include the Aripero Wetlands, a nesting ground for the Scarlet Ibis, and beaches along the coastline.

Petrotrin stated that clean up exercises were completed at 11 out of 13 affected beaches. 

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