Fyzabad MP wants safeguards for residents living along Heritage Petroleum pipelines

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Emergency operations by Heritage Petrolum to clean up an oil leak in Fyzabad on Thursday. – Photo by Roger Jacob

FYZABAD MP Dr Lackram Bodoe wants assurances from Heritage Petroleum on the safety of residents who live in and around the pipeline network at San Francique Road, Massahood Junction, Fyzabad.

Bodoe told the Newsday, he is seeking a meeting with Heritage on behalf of the residents who said they no longer feel safe after a third oil leak in the area over one year.

Bodoe who visited the site on Friday said while this spill is not as extensive as the previous one in May, the leaks are a cause of concern and worry to residents.

“The pipeline has been compromised by age and there is no guarantee this will not happen again. I want to raise this issue with the company because the residents cannot continue to live with the fear that this can happen anytime.”

He said the spill, the third since August 2022, “from my point of view, is unacceptable and I am writing a letter to Heritage requesting a meeting to represent the residents’ concerns.

“I look forward to an urgent engagement of the community to discuss future safeguards to prevent a recurrence of this problem.”

Siparia mayor Doodnath Mayrhoo said he too is seeking an urgent meeting with the company with the view to requesting relocation of the 16-inch pipeline.

Bodoe said he was assured the ruptured line, part of the cross-country pipeline network, had been capped and mop-up operations were taking place.

“I was given the assurance by Heritage’s communication officers that the mop-up operations should have been completed by Friday evening. I was informed that the oil was weathered crude, which means it was not fresh or new crude so the smell was not as pungent.”

He said there were no health, including respiratory issues, recorded.

The air quality has been deemed safe and resident Sherry Samaroo, on whose property the transmission line erupted, was given clearance by Heritage to light her stove and cook. Heritage had previously advised against starting any open flames as the emission of the crude oil still permeated the atmosphere.

A team from Heritage, including paramedics, knocked door to door in the community to ascertain if residents were affected.

The pipeline runs for miles in the heavily populated area and the occupants said they are fearful of recurring spills.

In May, 14 families in the same San Francique Road area, were evacuated by Heritage and put up at Paria Suites Hotel, because of the rupturing of the same line near Thursday’s leak. The amount of crude leaked at that time took longer to clean up and for acceptable air quality.

One of the affected residents of the May spill, Sareeta Bridgelal Ali said she and her family have developed medical complications as a result of the oil which spewed in her backyard and continues to slowly seep up to date.

She said on Thursday morning she and her family fled when the odour filled the air.

She said Heritage has not put in place a contingency plan for the residents and called on the company to give them some kind of assurance as their lives and property are in question.