Heritage: 60 per cent of Guayaguayare oil spill cleaned up

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Heritage CEO Arlene Chow speaks to Guayaguayare residents and fisherfolk on March 9 about what the company is doing to clean up a recent oil spill. – Photo courtesy Heritage

HERITAGE Petroleum Company Ltd is assuring residents of Guayaguayare that it is working proactively to address the effects of a recent oil spill in the area.

In a statement on Friday, Heritage said the assurance was given during a meeting with residents on March 9 at the Ferrier Road Community Centre in Guayaguayare.

The spill was first reported on February 11. Heritage reiterated that it immediately isolated and repaired the leaking pipeline.

The company said it hired specialist contractors and 85 residents to do clean-up and rehabilitation work.

“Thus far, over 7,000 barrels of fluids comprising 95 per cent water and five per cent hydrocarbons were removed from five collection points along the riverbank and transported to the Guayaguayare Tank Farm.”

Heritage said the exercise is 60 per cent completed and clean-up work is continuing apace.

Company CEO Arlene Chow led a Heritage team of officials at the meeting with residents on March 9.

Mayaro MP Rushton Paray and representatives of the Guayaguayare Village Council and Guayaguayare, Ortoire, Mayaro Fisherfolk Association (GOMFA) also attended the meeting.

Chow and Heritage officials expressed their regret to residents for the spill and promised to clean up and rehabilitate the affected areas as best as possible.

Heritage said most of the concerns raised by residents were about health, safety and wellbeing and environmental impact as a result of the spill. Compensation for damages caused by the spill and future community social programmes were also discussed at the meeting.

With respect to health and well-being of residents, Heritage said its officials restated the company’s commitment to rehabilitate the affected areas and continue with post-clean-up monitoring.

The company will continue air and noise quality testing in the affected areas. Heritage will also facilitate ongoing periodic medical checks for residents who helped in clean-up operations and other affected members of the community.

The company promised to offer health safety and environment (HSE) to members of the community in the near future and hold a follow-up meeting with community representatives to discuss the development and roll-out of social sustainability programs that meet the unique needs of the people of Guayaguayare.

Heritage said these discussions were taking placed before the spill occurred.

On compensation, the company said, “The process for claiming compensation was also shared with the attendees.”

On Saturday, Paray confirmed said residents raised several concerns about the spill with Heritage on March 9.

“There were several areas raised by the residents which Heritage has addressed and a few that they have agreed to address.”

He was not certain whether or not residents were satisfied with the assurances given to them by Heritage.

But Paray said, “The community is willing to work with Heritage to bring a quick resolution to the issue.”