Fishermen report largest recorded oil spill off east coast Trinidad
It is for reasons like these that we the people of Trinidad and Tobago must never give up the struggle against the wanton destruction of our natural environment. It is for reasons like these that we cannot give our support to projects like Alutrint's aluminum smelter or Essar's steel plant or any of the other ridiculous plans to expand the presence of heavy oil and gas based industries in our backyards and on our shores.
If it takes the EMA a week to take notice of an oil spill, how can we trust them to monitor the daily emissions coming from a plant?
RAG joins with the voices of the Fishermen and Friends of the Sea and the Trinidad and Tobago Unified Fisherfolk in calling for an immediate introduction of proper emergency response mechanisms to be put in place to deal with situations like this. Below is a letter from TTUF which was sent to the press on Monday September 24, the day we celebrate our status as a republic.
To The Editor
We have copied this letter to our Prime Minister, Minister of the Environment and the EMA for their immediate attention.
In the past these public officers have done nothing to ensure proper emergency response mechanisms.
Please help us to stop this callous crime against our communities and the environment and to expose Government negligence.
The first report of this spill was made to us last week Monday by fishermen.
We sought to confirm this spill before reporting it.
The weather was very hazy this evening when these pictures were taken.
The oil slick plume shown in the attached was visible stretching for 20 miles this evening.
This is the largest oil spill that this Nation has ever had.
Weather permitting, we will get better pictures tomorrow.
Today, Monday 24th Sept, we confirmed the source of this spill by overhead flight and attach for you the enclosed pictures for publication.
We report that this oil spill is emanating from the Teak Alpha Platform which is 15 miles due east from Point Radix/Point Galeota, and which is now operated by Repsol and the NGC. The spill has been occuring for over a week and Repsol and the NGC have preferred to knowingly let it continue rather than stop it and clean it up. There is legislation under which the CEO's of this company can be prosecuted.
We, the Trinidad and Tobago Unified Fisher-folk (TTUF) reported this spill to the Coast Guard at 9.30 am this morning, but at 7pm the Coast Guard reported to us that they have not investigated it,
since they claim to have been informed by Repsol that "it is only a sheen".
It clearly is not. It spreads visibly for over 20 miles and can be viewed and filmed by your staff in aircraft provided by TUFF tomorrow afternoon based on the wind and weather factors.
Over a hundred years ago this country started oil extraction, and to date, conveniently, we are not aware of any Coordinated Emergency Response Oil Spill Plan to co-ordinate
immediate state and private sector agencies in response to oil spills. Fishermen and Friends of the Sea (FFOS) submitted an Emergency Responce Coordination Plan to the PNM Government since 2001,
in which the EMA should act as the central emergency response and investigative coordinating agency. To date no response nor acknowledgement has even been received from the Honourable but seriously careless Ministers of Energy, Environment and Prime Minister.
Why is the PNM Government dragging their feet on the approval and implementation of a co-ordinated emergency response plan? A good question is who benefits from this carelessness? Are politicians working for the energy sector? In "developed" countries the CEOs of Repsol and of the NGC would have already been prosecuted for this disaster. What is the meaning or benefit of their so called "Developed Country" status if they continue to look away from their responsibility to protect our island ?