Thursday, February 22, 2018

Residents demand relocation

More dead fish on La Brea beaches...


WANT ANSWERS: La Brea residents display placards behind a heap of dead fish on Coffee Beach yesterday. They are calling on the Government to intervene and investigate the reason behind the dead fish. See story on Page 4. —Photo: TREVOR WATSON

Mark Fraser

Families living in coastal communities in La Brea are again demanding relocation, as hundreds of dead fish continue to wash ashore on the beaches.

The residents staged a protest at Coffee Beach, La Brea yesterday calling on the Government to intervene.

Parents and their children held up placards asking for a full investigation into what caused the fish to die.

The residents had first pleaded for relocation after thick crude washed ashore at beaches along the southwestern peninsula in December.

Petrotrin stated that the company’s Health, Safety and Environment personnel visited the beaches and took samples of the fish. 

“The carcasses have since been sent for independent testing in order to determine the cause of death. The results have not been received,” the company stated.

Petrotrin stated that although residents have blamed the company and the recent oil spills for the fish kill, the cause has not yet been determined.

Oneca Branker-Showers, a resident, said the dead fish caused a stench in the area. She said many children and adults were treated for nausea and vomiting in the past week.

“I understand the dead fishes started coming up three weeks ago at Point Sable Beach. But last Saturday we saw hundreds of fishes on Coffee Beach. We are very concerned about this and many people are complaining of feeling unwell,” she said.

Branker-Showers complained that neither the Environmental Management Authority (EMA) nor Petrotrin has  discussed the matter with residents.

“That is our major concern. They say there is an ongoing investigation. But how does this affect the residents. We live here, we want to know what is happening because we don’t want our children getting sick again. Something needs to be done,” she said.

Branker-Showers said residents were calling on Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar to hear their cries. “The EMA and Petrotrin are State companies. Let the Government get involved now. Tell us something. Move us out of here until they know what causing this. We are worried. Since the oil spill we asking to move and nothing was done,” she said.

President of the La Brea Fisherfolk Association, Alvin La Borde,  said the dead fish posed a serious health and safety risk to the coastal communities.

“No one has visited the communities to have consultation with residents on the dead fishes. The people here are concerned about their health and safety. They want to know what is causing the fishes to die and how it will affect them. And there people coming to the beaches to bathe because they are not aware of what is going on. Petrotrin removed the signs which warned people about bathing here, they need to replace them immediately,” he said.

La Borde said several attempts to contact the EMA and Petrotrin have failed.

The residents are concerned that the fish were killed by the dispersant which was used to remove oil from the water surface in recent months. 

Fishermen have not returned to the sea since the oil spill and are being paid loss of earnings by Petrotrin at a rate of $1,200 per day. “Fishermen are still waiting on the EMA to give the all clear for us to return to the sea. We don’t want to be selling contaminated fish to customers,” La Borde said.

The Express was told that EMA officers also collected samples of the dead fish for testing.

EMA corporate communications officer Nicole Bachan said the matter was being investigated. “However the agency primarily responsible would be the Institute of Marine Affairs (IMA),” she said.