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Residents block Coffee Beach clean-up: demand proper care

By Nikita Braxton-Benjamin nikita.braxton@trinidadexpress.com

THE clean-up of Coffee Beach, La Brea, was stalled yesterday by residents who blockaded the road leading to the beachfront, demanding permanent relocation and treatment for medical ailments.

Eighteen days ago, oil and bunker fuel spilled in the Gulf of Paria and began coming ashore between La Brea and Cedros. 

State-owned Petrotrin has reported steady progress in the clean-up of the oil, des­pite being prevented from accessing some of the coastline as a result of the protests which began on Monday at Point Sable Beach.

Residents there also blocked access to the area, asking for permanent relocation and jobs on the clean-up projects, which pays $50 an hour. The protest led to Petrotrin offi­cials meeting with residents to discuss the issues.

However, residents at Coffee Beach said no official had met with them as a group, and they feared there would be long-term health problems to those breathing in the fumes from the spill. 

The Express was told that most of the people in the area had developed sore throats and nausea.

Fish vendors also complained that while fishing boat owners were compensated for the damage done to the boats as a result of the oil and bunker fuel, vendors got nothing.

Resident Carlton Clint said the health of residents was his main concern since he had read about the effects of breathing in the fumes over an extended period of time.

Petrotrin has said it recor­ded ten residents as having been treated for medical problems related to the spill, and an ambulance and fire tender were on stand-by in the area.

Petrotrin also stated 110 persons were employed in the clean-up on a rotation basis.

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