State-owned Petrotrin moved into the rural community of Vance River, La Brea on Monday equipped with a medical team to assess residents affected by an oil spill.
The company was responding to instructions by Energy Minister Nicole Olivierre who visited the area on Sunday.
Residents complained of nausea, headache and rashes after thick, black crude seeped into a watercourse near their homes. The residents argued that the oil spill occurred three months ago. However, the company responded last week Wednesday when four-year-old Caleb Hart fell into the river while crossing a bridge on his way to school. Olivierre said she was disappointed in the company’s response time and ordered that a medical team visit the area. Petrotrin set up a medical post at the Vance River RC School where residents would be assessed from 3pm to 6pm daily.
Resident Susan Jerome said, “The company came and set up a medical facility at the school. The residents were told that they would be examined from 3pm to 6pm. We were asking for this for a while because people have been falling ill sinc ethis oil came in. We are pleased that the Minister acted and sent them today.” An ambulance was also on site to assist patients requiring further treatment. Jerome said little Caleb Hart was being examined regularly.
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Residents are visiby upset at the sludge located at Vance River
“They are looking after him. They came this morning and checked him,” she said. A contractor hired by Petrotrin continued clean-up operations on the riverbank. Olivierre said the riverbank would be cleared before the oil can be removed from the watercourse.
The Minister met Caleb Hart and other residents on Sunday and gave the assurance that their concerns would be addressed. Olivierre said railings would be constructed along the bridge in the interim. She said the oil leak may have occurred from a well which was capped to make way for the construction of the Solomon Hochoy Highway extension to Point Fortin.
Petrotrin stated that clean-up operations where being conducted in two phases.
A release stated that the first phase would entail dredging of contaminated water course from Guapo bridge leading eastwards, cutting and removal of oil stained vegetation, containment and recovery of all floating oil, remediation of impacted soil and installation of railings along the bridge. Petrotrin stated that containment booms would be installed.
Dredging and recovery of sunken oil would continue in the second phase. The company stated that cutting and removal of oil stained vegetation and remediation of impacted river bank would also continue. Petrotrin in addressing concerns raised by residents has also mobilized its medical response, the release stated. Petrotrin’s Chief Medical Officer visited the area affected to treat with any urgent situations on Monday. Residents with medical concerns related to the oil spill were encouraged to access the medical facility.