Accidents must not be Inevitable
Date: October 26th 2017
On Tuesday 24th October 2017 just off Carli Bay, a marine dredge vessel operating on behalf of De Novo Energy Ltd ruptured a pipeline from Point Lisas Nitrogen Ltd. The line spewed an unknown waste into the nearshore areas of our Gulf of Paria food basket.
On Wednesday 28thOctober, at 4.45am, as soon as Fishermen and Friends of the Sea (FFOS) became aware of the disaster, we reported the rupture to the Environmental Management Authority (EMA) emergency hotline (which amazingly answered), to the Chairman, Ms. Nadra Gyan, and the Managing Director, Mr Hayden Romano.
The mangroves and coastal areas of Carli Bay are to be removed and dredged to facilitate works by De Novo Energy Ltd for the laying of a new onshore gas pipeline. The applicant is an oil extractor, and has a somewhat questionable approval granted by the EMA to:
-install 3 unmanned production platforms
-drill 1 appraisal, 10 development and 2 exploration wells
-install one 14”, 61.5 km natural gas pipeline from Point Lisas to offshore within the Gulf of Paria and
-conduct an unstated quantity of seismic surveys for an unknown duration, and at unknown locations.
These works were approved by the EMAs newly appointed Managing Director, Hayden Romano (CEC 4827/2016) last April on May 16th 2017.
Since accidents in the oil and gas sector are happening with increased frequency and intensity many questions must be asked:
- Was De Novo Energy Ltd aware of the criss-cross of laid pipelines all over the Gulf, including possibly other gas pipelines along their proposed route?
- Was this not examined in the EMA approved Environmental Impact Assessment report?
- Were there appropriate mitigation measures?
- Were maps of the coordinates of other existing waste, oil or gas pipelines verified and approved by the EMA?
- Does the dredger even know what pipelines are buried in the Gulf?
- What emergency response measures are in place? Is it the same lazy and delayed emergency response that we had in the Chaguaramas oil spill or the tragic “small ting” ODPM flooding chaos?
- What is happening at the EMA?
- The two EMA required Public Consultations took place two weeks apart. How can the applicant study all of the impacts and determine all of the mitigation in the two weeks that it did? Did the EMA consider two weeks’ sufficient time for the applicant to conduct baseline studies and access potential and cumulative risks? and to propose appropriate mitigate measures?
- Ruptured gas pipelines can cause mass fatalities when gas fireballs explode. If EMA approved safety measures have failed in these dredge works, can the nation rest assured that dangerous accidents will not reoccur?
This is not a light matter.
This ruptured discharge line into the Gulf which was approved by the Town and Country Planning Division (TCPD) before the EMA had authority. It was laid approximately 20 years ago when Pt Lisas was known as Farmland Misschem Ltd. How many other companies (approved before the CEC Rules
became Law) are pumping toxic waste into our Gulf? What and how much chemical waste is being pumped daily? Does the EMA even know who has waste lines flowing into our food basket or what they are discharging? Why are our Governments ignorantly turning a blind eye on food contamination and cancer risks which are inevitable?
Unless each one of us seize the privilege to take responsibility and to protect our vulnerable and those without a voice, the trend of institutional decay and corporate irresponsibility will continue to ride roughshod over our human and biological communities.