Hard Decisions Must Be Made
Date: September 28th,2016
December 17, 2013
Since the unprecedented Petrotrin oil spill of 2013 a wide variety marine life continues to wash ashore, dead or dying on the beaches of La Brea.
The Authorities promised to investigate the matter then erroneously reported it as excess fish dumped by fishermen (lab results are never released or inexplicably go missing).
The fish kill in La Brea continues on a daily basis (peaking after heavy rains). FFOS presented evidence of this but it is ignored or rejected.
This continued for 3 years while FFOS continued to call for action.
July 25, 2016
FFOS conducted its’ own investigation in La Brea using the same laboratory as the Authorities
CARIRI found high levels of hydrocarbon contamination in sediment and fish tissue (2680.73 mg/kg of TPH)
Aimed at officially discrediting the FFOS report, the EMA immediately conducted the same analysis using the same method.[dated August 15, 2016] The results were not made public but the EMA declared the samples “grossly normal” and announced again that the dead fish were dumped by fishermen.
This most recent EMA report [include date of report] had numerous, grievous errors – incorrect dates, units of measure, even page numbers – when these errors were pointed out to them by FFOS the report was withdrawn and then reintroduced as a draft, corrected
The public errs on the side of caution not trusting the Authorities due to flawed/missing reports and unsubstantiated claims as a direct result of which many stakeholders in the fishing communities suffered great hardship and FFOS is vilified through the media.
FFOS & EMA Joint Investigation
FFOS approached the EMA for help to resolve the issue. The EMA expressed grave concern over the missing reports, expressed alarm at the evidence presented and promised new and transparent investigation into the matter with the inclusion of stakeholders.
August 19, 2016
The FFOS & EMA joint report confirms even higher contamination (26 757.92 mg/kg of TPH)
The EMA then distanced itself from the report and advised that it not be released.
The IMA stated the methodology repeatedly used is unsuitable but refused to comment on the suitability of previous analyses and importantly refused to retract previous statements on fish dumping. They declared that poly-cyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) analysis would be necessary to indicate serious threat to human health
CARIRI however, defended its laboratory methodology in writing but despite this or their well-established credibility, the Authorities decided to hand future testing to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), an organization notorious for placing corporate interests over public health interests.
Stakeholders will not be included The Authorities withdrew from any further consultations with FFOS and decided to focus their new sampling island wide rather than on La Brea where the dead fish are washing up.
During the six weeks it took the Authorities to declare the FDA as the laboratory of choice, FFOS contracted the University of Trinidad and Tobago and tested for PAHs.
September 22, 2016
PAH (Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons) Results
These results again confirmed oil contamination of the food chain. Persistent Organic Pollutants (PAHs and PCBs) were recorded at 482.05 μg/kg in fish and 147 280.85 μg/kg in sediment.
According to professors at UTT, “It is clear that there is significant contamination,” and if exposed, “poses a significant threat to human health.”
The most significant endpoint of PAH toxicity is cancer. After chronic exposure, the non-carcinogenic effects of PAHs involve primarily the pulmonary, gastrointestinal, renal, and dermatologic systems.
FFOS formally and respectfully call on the Government of Trinidad and Tobago to make the hard decisions that are necessary to protect the lives of its people
There is clearly a problem. The extent of the problem needs to be identified and then a solution prepared
Closeure of directly affected beaches is necessary.
A temporary ban on consumption of bottom feeding fish throughout the Gulf of Paria may be necessary until the extent of the problem is known.
Fish catching off La Brea should be restricted until more information comes available
The best technical minds should be brought together from civil society, the private sector, government and the fisheries sector, to chart the best way forward.