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Petrotrin faces hefty fines for latest leak

Published: 
Wednesday, April 26, 2017

At a time when oil and gas prices are stunted, Petrotrin is facing the risk of being penalised in light of last Sunday’s spill which has begun to exact financial loses and pose environmental dangers.

Sunday’s spill into the Guaracara River and the Gulf of Paria, has also raised more questions than answers from the former Energy Minister Kevin Ramnarine and the Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union (OWTU) which represents workers at this institution. 

Three years ago the State-owned energy company was ordered to pay some $20 million in fines for breaches of its Certificate of Environmental Clearance (CEC).

Ramnarine called on Petrotrin to clarify conflicting reports as to the size and extent of last Sunday’s oil spill and to say why the tender process for the construction of bund walls for high risk storage tanks in the refinery was stopped in 2016.

Bund walls contain the contents of tanks in the event of a rupture. 

In its initial report, Petrotrin reported that 20 barrels had leaked from a ruptured storage tank at its Pointe-a-Pierre Refinery. Later, the Environmental Management Authority (EMA) in a release said it had been informed by the company 20,000 gallons of bunker fuel had escaped. Petrotrin is now quantifying the figure as 300 barrels which leaked from the tank.

A portion of the fuel was not contained and recovered but has made its way into the Gulf of Paria, is said to be travelling in a westerly direction and fishermen claim their livelihood is once more threatened by Petrotrin.

Education and Research officer of the OWTU Ozzi Warwick questioned when was the last time the storage tanks were inspected and if there are others are waiting to crack. 

Warwick said the union has been severely criticised for industrial actions taken in the past because of safety issue but said there is no joy from being proven right. He recalled threats to fire President General Ancel Roget in 2015, when he was hauled before the Court for publicly highlighting the poor state of infrastructure and bad management at Petrotrin. 

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