Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union (OWTU) president-general Ancel Roget yesterday accused the Petrotrin board of dereliction of duty.
Speaking at a news conference at the Port of Spain office of the Opposition Leader immediately after meeting with Keith Rowley and a team of officials, Roget said Petrotrin was trying to deny information to the public on the real reason for the oil spill.
Roget claimed the company was busy shredding documents. “The company knew all along how much oil was spilled, where it came from and who was directly responsible,” he said. He said the company did not act on its own recommendation in October 2010 that all those sealines should have been changed as a matter of priority.
“The board was aware of it, the minister was aware of it, the top management was aware of all those recommendations,” Roget said. “They did absolutely nothing, and December 17 was the result of their inaction,” he said.
Roget said instead, the minister (Kevin Ramnarine) talked about sabotage and the chairman (Lindsay Gillette) talking about a special tool to remove a “bullplug”.
“That is as laughable as it gets because anybody in the oil industry knows that the tool he is referring to can be bought at any hardware,” Roget stated.
He said the OWTU has presented to Rowley a compilation of documents “that landed in its mailboxes”.
He reiterated the union’s call for an independent investigation and rejected the Task Force appointed by the Government to examine the consequences, “not the root cause” of the spill. He said the Prime Minister did not want to find out the cause, but the friends of the Government in the top management and the board were responsible for the spill.
Roget said it was also the failure of Petrotrin’s management to implement its own oil-spill contingency plan that prevented it from containing the level and impact of the oil spill, something which it would have been able to do with the plan.
“Total failure on the part of the management. Why? Because at the top level at these State enterprises, the persons appointed are not appointed on the basis of experience and competence, but on the basis of political affiliation, and, in this case, affiliation with the People’s Partnership Government. They don’t know what they are doing. In other instances they are corrupt, and in other instances they are both,” he said. —Ria Taitt