Oil Spill Clean-Up Deception: Trinidadians Provide Video Evidence

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An investigation by locals has exposed that the oil spill clean-up by the company responsible for the oil spillage was hogwash and an ecological tragedy in the area was imminent.

The oil has been leaking from a pipeline belonging to the Paria Fuel Trading Company Limited (PTCL) near its Pointe-a-Pierre refinery in the Gulf of Paria, for a week. While officials have claimed that they initiated containment measures to mitigate the oil spill clean-up in the sea. They have said that vessels were being used to break up the oil that has formed a thick film on the surface of the water.

But photographic evidence by locals suggests that the whole oil spill clean-up operation was a mere eye-wash and nothing has been done by it to control the damage.

Environmentalists and local fishermen are outraged at the inadequate response by both the government of Trinidad and Tobago and one of the biggest oil companies in the region. This is the latest among hundreds of oil spills in the region in recent years.

Videos of fishermen showed hands covered in thick oil that have formed a black layer over the ocean. They pleaded with viewers to share the tragedy unfolding in the Gulf of Paria off Trinidad. The spill is bound to inflict devastation on the fragile ecosystem of the island and the sea surrounding it.

Read: Carbon Emission Litigation For Oil Firms Has Sparked Climate Hope

Aboud, part of an environmental group revealed the magnitude of the oil spill that stretched over miles. He said that the purported attempts by PTCL were half-hearted and did nothing to reverse the damage from the spill.

The group, Fishermen and Friends of the Sea have documented the disaster that showed a vessel moving at a high speed trying to break up and clear the spill. Aboud says that the attempts of oil spill clean-up by the company were more outrageous than the spill itself. He said that booms would be needed to contain the spill and collect the oil from the surface.

He says that by breaking up floating globs of oil, the company is merely allowing it to sink to the floor where it would do extensive damage to the rich ecology of the sea.

Paria Oils Says Oil Spill Clean-Up Underway But Have No Proof Of Claim

The company said that they had discovered the leak only last Saturday and said the spill resulted from damage to a foot-long pipeline. They claimed that an oil spill clean-up to pick up the residual oil was ongoing.

They said that they have also placed absorbent booms at strategic locations to contain the spread from going out to sea. They also said that they had deployed vacuum trucks for removing oil that had washed ashore while mechanical operations were cleaning up the seas.

But their lie was exposed even as program director Lisa Premchand of FFOS revealed that there wasn’t any concrete evidence of the clean-up claims made by the company following the spill.

She said that drone images revealed that no booms were present in the affected areas of the Gulf of Paria to contain the spread of the oil spill.

She also said that FFOS had recorded the claims of fishermen who said that oil dispersants were being used for the oil spill clean-up though the company has not commented on the allegations. The use of oil dispersant chemicals is prohibited near the shore under the contingency plans for the oil spill of Trinidad and Tobago.

Read: All Future Oil Exploration Halted In Greenland In Bid To Combat Climate Change

Premchand says that it takes years before oil degrades, and the build-up of toxic chemicals in the rich fishing waters of the Gulf of Paria was polluting the water even as the intensity and frequency of oil spills were increasing over the years. Fishing nets are also damaged by the oil spill and cannot be used again.

It was revealed that 498 oil spills have taken place both on sea and land in the region since 2018. The sale of fish has already been affected by the news of the oil spill and the fishing community was hurting, says Aboud. 

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