Thursday, November 09, 2006

Penal oil explosions cause for concern

November 08, 2006

Dear Editor,
The current pipeline explosion in Penal raises serious questions. We
are extracting energy for over 100 years, and still we have no
emergency response plan in the event of a major disaster. "God is a
Trinidadian" stupidity is no joke.
In 2003, FFOS lost a major Judicial Review against the EMA and the
multinational BP for unexamined cross country gas pipeline risks. FFOS
lost since the judge considered it prejudicial against BP since it had
already spent 71 million US Dollars on 80" of gas transmission
pipelines. These pipelines pass dangerously close to schools, villages,
residential communities etc. Today we shudder to think of these still
unexamined risks and the extent of potential disaster. There is no
emergency response education in any areas including those of high risk.
There is no legal standard for the safe laying and testing of gas
pipelines, such as the globally accepted American Petroleum Institute
(API) Code 1104. The energy multinationals could never do in England or
the USA what they are permitted to do here.
In 1999 Finbar Gangar received a Draft National Emergency Response
Co-ordination Plan from a broad based Government appointed committee of
professionals. Regretfully, the now luxuriously retired Minister never
moved the document into Parliament, or anywhere at all, busy as he was
with secret closed door negotiations for the sale of minerals.
Succeeding Ministers of Energy were too busy (driving all over St
James) to act on the critical need for disaster response co-ordination
In 2000 the EMA was legally born, but they are still left out of the
central function of emergency response co-ordination of which they
should play a pivotal role.
In fact every one is left out since there is still no known or
published plan, and Parliament is snoring on the issue.
In 2001, after more than 300 hours of research, Fishermen and Friends
of the Sea (FFOS) prepared and presented a National Emergency Response
Co-ordination Plan and presented this plan to the energy tsars at the
Energy Conference held at the Trinidad Hilton that year. Regretfully,
no action was ever taken by the Government to investigate or implement
any such plan at allj.
A few years ago Techier Village exploded under another Petrotrin well
eruption. An entire village ran aground in the dark for three days like
mules without testicles. There was no plan for any aspect of emergency
reponse. Years later we have still done nothing to improve energy
disaster preparedness or response co-ordination mechanisms. There are
still no known shelters for displaced citizens, so where will they go?
St. Anns or Torouba? There are almost no ambulances on the National
grid, and so how will burn victims be transported in the event of a gas
fireball incineration from Guyaguyare or other remote communities? And
are there sufficient burn unit facilities to respond to a gas fireball
accident in any of the densely populated rural towns through which the
gas pipeline grid runs? Guyaguyare still has no fire station. There is
still no Hazardous Materials (HAZMAT) firefighting equipment anywhere
in Trinidad, not even next to the gaseous ALNG facilities or in the
Plipdeco compound. The chicken fast food fire in Point Fortin a few
years ago showed us all that there is not even water in the POINT
Fortin mains to fight fire. Is Port of Spain better? How will different
State agencies be co-ordinated in the event of a major gas fireball? Is
this the brilliance of 2020 vision, or continued negligence and
irresponsibility of the gravest nature? Instead of building boastful
sky scrapers shouldn't a caring father first ensure the safety of his
We continue to appeal to the Honourable Members of Parliament to call
on our big spending Government for these emergency response
co-ordination plans.
FFOS has been right too many times before: Please do not let us be
right on gas fireballs and the careless unpreparedness of communities
and Government agencies.

Gary Aboud
Fishermen and Friends of the Sea


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