Cut pipeline causes oil spill in Fyzabad

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Touchstone Exploration (Trinidad) Ltd and Primera Oil and Gas Ltd worked together at Gowers Well Road in Fyzabad on Thursday to clean up an oil spill. – Marvin Hamilton

People from at least 12 homes in Fyzabad have been offered temporary housing as a result of Wednesday’s oil leak in water courses off Gowers Well Road.

The spill happened on the compound of Primera Oil and Gas Ltd, a subsidiary of Touchstone Exploration Inc. The company estimates that a maximum of 240 barrels of oil may have been spilled when vandals cut an oil transfer line.

Workers from the company continued overnight cleanup work on Thursday to minimise the damage.

A statement from Touchstone on Thursday afternoon said the source of the leak had been isolated and contained. It also said no injuries were reported.

“The safety and security of staff, operations, and community partners is Primera’s main priority. All impacted residents have been contacted and are being assisted while cleanup activities are conducted,” the statement said.

The company deemed the cut line an act of vandalism, and said it had notified all relevant authorities, including the police.

Residents of the area said they began smelling the fumes on Wednesday evening, then spotted oil in the drains and other water courses and land.

By that night, company representatives had told them about the spill and offered them food. The company also provided housing at a building at Delhi Road.

Dial Samaroo said, “I did not take up the offer. I stayed home.

“They dropped off KFC last night. This morning they gave us pumpkin and roti for breakfast. “My wife and I just came from visiting a doctor in La Romaine.

“The company organised everything for us. I am feeling normal,”

He estimated about 40 people were affected.

Samaroo said he saw oil in his drain while a cow was grazing in bush across the road. He said he alerted the owner, who removed the animal.

He added, “Someone sabotaged the company. It is not the company’s fault.”

Other residents said the leak was the latest incident in the area. Less than two weeks ago, someone set a gauge hut on fire. Nearby, someone spray-painted “Ask Kern where my money for my pipeline” on one of the company’s tanks.

No one has been held in connection with either incident.

Another affected resident, Anand Mahabir, said he lost a goat and two kids, as the animals were grazing, and the grass became contaminated. The family also lost several ducks and common fowls.

He said his two children were complaining about the fumes, but he did not get a chance on Thursday to take up the company’s offer of a free medical checkup. The family spent the night at the building at Delhi Road.

On Thursday, Mahabir attended the graduation of his son and niece, both students of Pepper Village Government School. He then went to a funeral of a relative.

At Gowers Well Road near Bailey Avenue, the Mathison and Charles families said no one from the company had spoken with them.

A total of 12 people, including a seven-month-old baby and two women, 64 and 66, live in their two-storey house.

“We did not know what was going on. Last night was bad.

“Right now, its is breezy, so it is not as bad. We are seeing people cleaning up. They worked throughout the night,” a relative said.

A neighbour, Marlene Ali, 69, said the same thing.

“No one from the company talked to us. No one came and dropped off food for us. Workers are cleaning up. The smell is bad,” she said.

Responding to a question about the spill at Thursday’s post-Cabinet media briefing at the Diplomatic Centre, Energy Minister Stuart Young said he had not received any report on it.

He added that he had read a report about someone cutting a pipeline, but was not yet able to verify the information.

If there was sabotage, Young said he hoped there would be a proper investigation to find those responsible for that “very, very irresponsible criminal behaviour.”

Anyone with information about the spill can call the Fyzabad police at 677-7777.