Sunday, February 25, 2018

No all-clear yet for La Brea residents after air quality tests


TAKING NOTES: EMA officials compare readings on their gas detection gauges at Coffee Beach, La Brea yesterday during their visit to the coastal villages to conduct air-quality testing following last month’s oil spills. —Photo: DAVE PERSAD

Mark Fraser

AIR quality testing was conducted in the coastal villages throughout La Brea yesterday to determine when homeowners can be allowed to light their stoves again.

Petrotrin, Environmental Management Authority (EMA) and Fire Service officials visited the area and took samples for testing.

The officers walked through Coffee Beach, La Brea, where thick oil washed ashore on December 18.

They also visited Station Beach, Carat Shed Beach and Point Sable, where oil stained the seashore and mangrove.

A senior fire officer said all the parties would conduct independent testing.

“We would all conduct our tests and then compare the results at the end of the tour. We cannot give a definite answer now as to whether the residents can light their stove again because the exercise is not completed. We will be able to say after the results are compared,” he said.

Last week, EMA compliance officers visited the beachfront in La Brea to do air quality tests. The officers used air-monitoring equipment to test the hydrocarbon levels in the air at Coffee Beach and other areas affected by the oil spill.

Petrotrin stated that the oil spill along the southwestern peninsula was almost completed.

Families living near the oil slick were advised not to light their stoves. The State-owned oil company has supplied meals for the affected families for the past month.

Residents said they were thankful for the meals, but noted that they were looking forward to cooking in their homes again.

The oil clean-up was interrupted by protests as workers complained they were not receiving full payment from the company contracted by Petrotrin to undertake the exercise.

But workers returned to the seashore yesterday morning, picking up debris and mopping up the remnants of the oil spill.