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Oil spill ‘sabotage’ made up, says Rowley

‘Petrotrin probe shows faulty sealine to blame’

By Anna Ramdass anna.ramdass@trinidadexpress.com

Petrotrin concocted a story of sabotage to gain public sympathy when its own internal investigation found the oil spill originated from a faulty sealine at the Pointe-a-Pierre refinery port, says Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley.

Rowley yesterday reiterated his call for the dismissal of Energy Minister Kevin Ramnarine at a news conference at his Parliament office, Port of Spain, saying the minister was defending Petrotrin when there were documents from the State enterprise which showed there were red flags with respect to lines in the sector that needed attention but were never addressed.

Rowley met with the Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union (OWTU), led by Ancel Roget, on Wednesday and was presented with a report entitled “Petrotrin Oil Spill Cover-Up”.

The report, said Rowley, is based on documents from Petrotrin itself and EMA (Environmental Management Autho­­ri-

ty).

Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar has rejected a call for a meeting with the OWTU, saying it would be premature to do so as the oil spill was being investigated.

Rowley said if the Prime Mi­nister had come down her “high horse” and met with the OWTU, she would have received the documents and seen the Petrotrin report.

Referring to the OWTU report, Rowley quoted a Petrotrin document dated October 11, 2010, where a Sri Lankan engineering expert recommended a number of lines be inspec­ted.

One particular line deemed to be high risk was the Sealine No 10—the very line where the oil spill originated on December 17, 2013.

Rowley said Petrotrin had this information in its possession and misled the country into believing the spills were as a result of sabotage.

He said further, Petrotrin’s own investigative report into the oil-spill incident, dated December 24, 2013, found the spill came from Sealine 10.

That Petrotrin report, said Rowley, also found 7,452 barrels of bunker fuel, valued at $4 million, was unaccounted for.

He said despite having all this information, Petrotrin issued a release on December 27, 2013, referring to the spills as “leaks” and not mentioning at all any of the documentation in its possession.

Rowley charged Ramnarine was “grossly irresponsible” in his handling of the entire matter and called for his dismissal once again.

He said the Prime Minister will ultimately be held accountable on how she treats with the minister.

Rowley added that EMA fined Petrotrin $20 million which the State entity accepted.

He pointed to an EMA release which stated its fine against Petrotrin was among other things for its failure to report all accidents, emergencies and spills within the stipulated time frame.

Rowley said unless both Pe­trotrin and EMA can state the documents are not authentic, then the evidence shows there was a cover-up of the true facts surrounding the oil spill.

He said Ramnarine sought to “demonise” him and embark on character assassination, instead of addressing the facts.

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