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Extractive Sector
Unacceptable Secrecy at a time of national disaster

Unacceptable Secrecy at a time of national disaster

Date: May 8th , 2017

Dear Editor/Newsroom,

Unaccetable Secrecy at a Time of National Disaster

The reported deaths of three Venezuelan men, whose boat capsized after their engine failed while they were surrounded by fuel oil from Petrotrin’s Tank 70 rupture, raises more serious doubts about the integrity of the information released by the Minister of Energy and Energy Industries. His Excellency Anthony Thomas Aquinas Carmona O.R.T.T., S.C has the authority to intervene to encourage Minister Khan to make public the following? FFOS are preparing an appeal for a presidentail intervention to ensure transparency and accurate public reporting.

Petrotrin stated that the oil spill began at 2:45 pm on Sunday 23rd April 2017.

  1. Is this the time of detection, or the time when Tank 70 actually ruptured?
  2. How frequently are these tanks inspected and by whom?
  3. When was Tank 70 last inspected prior to its rupturing?
  4. At what time was the emergency response initiated?
    According to the National Oil Spill Contingency Plan (NOSCP) Petrotrin has at least 3 skimmers in hand in case of an oil spill.
  5. Why weren’t these skimmers used to contain the oil from ruptured Tank 70?
    Petrotrin installed booms across the Guaracara River but was unsuccessful in containing or preventing the high density fuel oil from entering the Gulf of Paria. This fuel oil is heavier and denser than water so it does not float on the surface; it would be submerged. Were the booms installed across the Guaracara River after the oil escaped into the Gulf of Paria or were the booms inadequate to contain submerged fuel oil?
  6. Was Petrotrin even aware of the density of the fuel oil from the ruptured tank and aware that it would be submerged in the water?
    Minister Franklin Khan stated in Parliament that only 300 barrels of oil leaked from Tank 70. The video circulating on social media, where fuel oil was gushing out of Tank 70, it is without a doubt much more than 300 barrels escaped
  7. If a mere 300 barrels of oil leaked, how could it have stretched to 1 mile wide by 5 miles long in the Gulf of Paria?
  8. How much oil was contained in Tank 70 prior to and after the Sunday 23rd April oil spill? (Can reports be shown which would substantiate these claims of 300 barrels?)
  9. How many barrels of oil escaped per minute from the ruptured Tank?
  10. What time was the leak contained or did the entire contents from the ruptured tank flow into our food basket?
    In December 2013 it was reported that 7000 barrels of oil was spilled, but this never caused any major impact on Venezuela, yet today our country is being told that a mere 300 barrels of oil is having a major impact on Venezuela’s coast. See the pictures attached of this heavy fuel oil washed ashore the coastline of Guiria, Venezuela.

Petrotrin has sent a clean-up team to Venezuela, but …

  1. How many men do we have cleaning up the oil contaminated waters on the Trinidad side of the Gulf of Paria?
    Fishermen and Friends of the Sea (FFOS) questions the integrity of the oil spill reports and the efficiency of the clean-up response initiated by Petrotrin as the degree of impact of this recent oil spill has been worsening.
  2. Why were no navigational warnings issued?
  3. The Hon Minister may have been inaccurately advised, but does that mean a Minister or Prime Minister can hide behind a smoke screen of “gross mismanagement”?

Because human life and health are at risk when a rupture occurs, our Parliament should consider legislation that would create consequence when Public Officers deliberately mislead the public.

Three Venezuelan men, someone’s sons, fathers and brothers, are dead as a result of Governments inaction in view of the 2003 Risk Assessment Report which warned that Tank 70 and others would rupture within two years if not repaired; their families are left to mourn and feed themselves without them. The Trinidadian families of Cairo Village live downhill from other Petrotrin tanks also listed as “high risk” in the 2003 Risk Assessment report. Unless Petrotrin and all the designated local Authorities (EMA, NEMA, IMA, OSHA, MEEI, Ministry of Planning and Development, etc ) come together with a sense of urgency, our lives and our environment will continue to be at risk because of their gross negligence and dereliction of duty!

Gary Aboud
Corporate Secretary

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