affected: A girl looks back at her mother as she enters an ambulance after complaining of feeling unwell during a protest by Marabella residents at the main gate of the Administration Building of Petrotrin in Pointe-a-Pierre yesterday. —Photo: DEXTER PHILIP

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Oil spill protesters get sick

By \\\\\ Sandhya Santoo sandhya.santoo@trinidadexpress.com

An elderly woman and two children were rushed for medical treatment to the Augustus Long Hospital, Pointe-a-Pierre, by a Petrotrin ambulance after they fell ill during a protest held outside the Pointe-a-Pierre Refinery yesterday.

Polly Gopaul, 74, an affected resident of the July 29 oil leak in Marabella, was protesting with her son and daughter-in-law, Steve and Charmaine Gopaul, when she began complaining of burning eyes and feeling nauseous.

The Express was told by a resident that the children who were part of the protest were vomiting before they came to the protest and their nauseous feeling worsened upon arrival. 

Gopaul and the children were taken for treatment. The Express understands all three have been discharged from the hospital and have returned to their homes. 

The heavy police presence did not stop the residents who mobilised to the front gate of the Pointe-a-Pierre Refinery from voicing their dissatisfaction with the response and treatment they have received from Petrotrin. 

Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union (OWTU) president general Ancel Roget thanked the residents for coming to the protest and said, “We standing strong in the defence of the residents and their plight.”

He said they (the protestors) were not breaking any laws by protesting and were “prepared to deal with the police”.

The residents came out in their numbers to protest with the OWTU, singing and holding placards such as  “Petrotrin is a Failure”, “Wild Life Damaged” , “You Damage Our Health”. 

Since the leak was discovered residents have been complaining of dizziness, shortness of breath, burning eyes, nausea and vomiting. 

The leak was from Tank MP6 which contained slop oil which seeped into the Guaracara River and has since affected those within the vicinity. Residents said they want Petrotrin to compensate them, relocate them until clean-up exercises are completed and cover medical expenses.

So far the five-member Quashie-Dalyrimple family has been relocated to a guest house. 

 Roget also placed no confidence and trust in the independent auditor PricewaterhouseCoopers Advisory Services Ltd which was appointed to investigate the cause of the oil leak.

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