Saturday 21 December 2013

Oil Spill hits Trinidad Beaches.

Beaches in South Trinidad were closed by authorities after being covered by a thick layer of crude oil on 18 December 2013. Local fishermen have also been prevented from putting to sea by the event, putting livelihoods at risk, and residents have complained of nausea and headaches brought on by fumes from the oil, which have affected children particularly badly. People have also been advised against cooking due to the possibility of fumes being ignited by naked flames, and hampers of cold food have been distributed by the local council. Contractors have been engaged by oil company Petrotrin to clear oil from the beaches, though it is unclear what remediation steps will be taken beyond immediate removal of more obvious oil (hydrocarbons products in the water can be extremely harmful to a variety of marine life, and to people who consume affected seafood).

Oil covering a Station Beach in La Brea on southwest Trinidad. Kristian de Silva/Trinidad and Tobago Guardian.

Petronin has reported two spills in the last week, one from a pipeline in the port of Pointe-a-Pierre during the loading of a barge on Tuesday 17 December and the other from an offshore platform on the same day, though it is not clear if the oil on the beaches came from either of these spills or another, unreported, event. Samples of oil from Coffee and Carrat Shed beaches are being analyzed in order to attempt to determine the source of the oil.

Concerns have been raised in Trinidad about the increasing number of spills from Petronin facilities, which the Ministry of Housing and the Environment and Marine Affairs has admitted it does not have the resources to deal with, and the Environmental Management Authority is currently looking into what steps can be taken to better enforce compliance with environmental laws, according to Environment Minister Ganga Singh.

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