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No school for La Brea children

By Nikita Braxton- Benjamin

THE NEW school terms begins today but several children living in the La Brea area, which was affected by the recent oil spill, will remain at home.
Some were said to be too ill to return to school. In other instances, their parents, who have been unable to work, cannot afford to send them to school. About a dozen children are affected, residents said.
Self-employed residents who have businesses at their homes at Coffee Beach yesterday told the Express said that clients have been staying away following the oil spill.
It was days before Christmas that oil and bunker fuel spilled in the Gulf of Paria and made their way ashore between La Brea and Cedros. In all, 11 spills have affected the coastline in the south western peninsula.
Denecia Gilbert, 25, said that since this occurred, her hairdressing business has been severely affected.
She said her three-year-old son, who attends a pre-school in the area, will remain at home today.
Gilbert said that sending him to school will require purchasing items for him to eat and also paying for transportation.
Gilbert, who does hair weaving and also sells the product, said, “I can’t afford to send him to school ... Right now I hustling trying to get work on the beach as part of the clean-up crew.”
Other parents said their children have fallen ill and therefore will have to be absent from school.
Virgil Gilbert said that children ages eight, seven and two years who have been staying at his home were ill when the oil-spill happened and had to be moved to a different area.
He said they have since returned to Coffee Beach but they will not be attending school today.
The air condition and computer technician also said that his business, which is operated from his home, has been affected as people have been unwilling to come to his house.
Virgil Gilbert said that while they are being told that the beach is cleaner, the sand underwater is still covered with oil.
Terrilisa Modeste yesterday said that she had to take her one-and-half-year-old daughter, Anastasia to the Point Fortin hospital after a rash developed over her entire body.
The rash which formed last Friday was accompanied by itching and swelling.
While Modeste believes that her daughter has been affected by the oil spill, she was told by a doctor that Anastasia was suffering from an allergy.
The previous day at a meeting with Petrotrin officials, residents had raised health, safety and environmental concerns.
Communications officer George Commissiong said that the company will consider having a 24-hour ambulance service at the La Brea Community Centre to take residents to its Point Fortin facility.
He had also said that fewer trucks will be working in the area today after concerns were raised by parents over their children’s safety as they head back out to school.
Commissiong said that work would have resumed yesterday at Coffee Beach and Point Sable following protest action by the residents last week. They had clamoured for permanent relocation, employment and treatment for medical ailments.
Yesterday a clean-up crew was seen at Coffee Beach while a backhoe worked near Klavon Cadette’s home.
Cadette, who has been against the resumption of work until information is given about compensation for residents, said that he allowed for some debris to be cleared behind his house yesterday.
But, he said, cleaning will not be allowed to continue near his home.
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