Fire at Lake Asphalt

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Screenshot of the fire at Lake Asphalt

INVESTIGATIONS are continuing into a fire which broke out at one of Lake Asphalt’s STILLS at its La Brea facility on Thursday.

The financially troubled Lake Asphalt confirmed the fire, after a video of smoke billowing from its compound went viral on social media, but said its production was not affected.

In a statement, Corporate Communications Coordinator Marsha Marchan said the fire occurred at its No 2 STILL, during planned maintenance in the production facility.

She said LATT’s Emergency Response mechanism was triggered and together with the Point Fortin Fire Services, quickly contained and extinguished the fire.

There were no injuries or casualties, and in accordance with its HSE Policy, is conducting an internal investigation to ascertain the root cause of the incident.

She said the company is also collaborating with the Fire Services Prevention Unit in the conduct of their independent investigations.

In an earlier interview, Marchan explained to the Newsday, that the STILL is, “Not a building, but rather a large piece of equipment.”

She described it as a “big boiling pot” where the raw asphalt is processed for the removal of water or other foreign objects.

She said the process takes between 16 to 17 hours, following which it is then decanted, strained and placed into the oil drums.

While this is in operation, she further explained, no one is around it.

“No one was close enough to be injured. The LATT property was never in any danger as the STILL, while located on the compound, is situated away from the offices and other buildings.

She said it is not LATT’s only STILL and would therefore, not significantly affect the operation of the plant.

The plant’s main revenue stream was cut off since the closure of Petrotrin, on which it heavily depended to sell its major product, bitumen. Workers engaged in numerous protests, as salaries were not paid to the 240 employees on its pay roll.

In April 2022, the Prime Minister announced the transfer of the wholly-State-owned company from the portfolio of the Ministry of Energy and Energy Industries to Works and Transport.

Since then, the company has been receiving a monthly subvention of $2.5 million to keep it afloat.

Government has spoken of plans to restructure the company as the subvention is not sustainable. The National Infrastructure Development Company (NIDCO), has been tasked with creating a new business model to make LATT profitable.