Saturday, February 24, 2018

Area ‘not safe’ after oil spill

Marabella residents taken to emergency shelter


Packing up: In this composite photo, two-year-old Caleb Dalyrimple, at left, looks on as his mother, Glenis Quashie-Dalyrimple, packs clothes and food items before leaving their home at Silk Cotton Road in Marabella after the recent oil spill at the Guaracara River, —Photos: DEXTER PHILIP

Mark Fraser


Petrotrin’s Pointe-a-Pierre refinery.

Mark Fraser

ASTHMA patient Glenis Quashie-Dalyrimple packed her bags and evacuated her Marabella home with her family yesterday to stay in accommodation provided by State-owned oil company Petrotrin to escape the fumes of the oil spill near her home. From today she will be staying at the Golden Jubilee Guest House at Plaisance Park, Pointe-a-Pierre.

Quashie-Dalyrimple, 35, her three children and husband, David Dalyrimple, said the fumes from the oil spilled into a river mere metres from their home were causing too many medical problems for members of her family.

On Saturday night, the family spent the night at a 24-hour emergency shelter at the Marabella North Government Secondary School at Union Road, where there are volunteers, security guards and doctors between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Since Tuesday evening when the oil spill emerged in the river, residents of Silk Cotton Road, Battoo Avenue, and a few other houses in surrounding streets have complained of shortness of breath, dizziness, headaches, burning to the eyes, nose and throat, and tightness in the chest.

Quashie-Dalyrimple, who has lived there all of her life, said intermittently oil would be seen in the river, but this was one of the worst instances she could remember.

“Since Tuesday night the fumes were overpowering and everyone in my family was coughing and complaining, and we could not sleep. Since then, the fumes have gradually eased up, but I have been to the hospital (Augustus Long Hospital) three times since I had breathing problems with dizziness and shortness of breath. My two-and-a-half-year-old son also got problems to breathe and he had to be put on oxygen. My other two girls, their tonsils were swollen, and the bigger one got nausea, dizziness and belly pains”, she said.

Yesterday, even though she thought the fumes had cleared up “about 95 per cent to how it was a few days ago”, residents were still being picked up from their homes by ambulances and taken for treatment at Augustus Long Hospital.

Shelby Lange, 23, was taken by ambulance from his home at Claudia Street after he complained of tightness in his chest and breathing difficulties.

Quashie-Dalyrimple said: “They (Petrotrin officials) told us that the situation is under control, but I can still be facilitated at a guest house nearby. I am packing to go now because we need fresh air instead of these constant fumes. At least tonight I know we will sleep good”.

Another resident, Bibiana Pascal, said the fumes seemed to be seeping into foodstuff and she is fearful that her home is no longer safe.

Pascal said: “I opened a pack of biscuits on Saturday and I got a strong smell of gas in it. I could not eat it. And then we were advised not to cook. So what do they want us to do? This area seems to no longer be safe for people to live. When rain falls oil and foam come down the river and it smells. Our dishes are black, our cutlery are rusty, our appliances get rusty fast. This is not right for hard-working human beings”.

Relatives of new mother Michelle Bernard-Roberts said she and her three-month old son have left their home to stay with her mother in Mon Repos, San Fernando.

“It is not safe for the baby at all,” said Stacy Matthews.

Another resident Keshorn Elms said he believed that the situation was being downplayed by Petrotrin. “They are just trying to cover everything up and say that it is safe to be here. But we are the ones smelling the gas and getting sick. We can’t go to work, my children are sick, we cannot sleep and we cannot cook. We cannot function properly”, said Elms. “I did not go to the shelter with my family because I thought it was very poor of Petrotrin to provide accommodations two days after we had started suffering. That is not good enough for a big company like that”.