Indarsingh: Government remarks on oil spill defy logic

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Rudranath Indarsingh –

COUVA South MP Rudranath Indarsingh on February 16 accused the Government of making illogical remarks over its handling of the Tobago oil spill. He was speaking in the House of Representatives after Speaker Bridgid Annisette-George acceded to his request to debate the disaster as a definite matter of urgent public importance.

Indarsingh said, “I have been hearing pronouncements that the spill has been contained and the spill is being managed.”

However he said Energy Minister Stuart Young earlier said the vessel was still leaking oil in reply to the Opposition’s urgent question.

“The vessel has not been plugged. If you are unable to plug the leak, how could you tell me that the oil spill is being contained and it is being managed?

“That defies logic. In another place, I would have used the appropriate language but I cannot use the appropriate language in this august chamber.”

He said the former People’s Partnership government had crafted a national emergency oil spill contingency plan. “The reaction in the first few hours determines the success of any containment effort,” Indarsingh said, urging Young to say how quickly the plan was activated and when and under who’s command.

“The Government is duty-bound to tell the population, how long has this ghost or phantom vessel been in the waters of Trinidad and Tobago?

“When did this vessel run into trouble and whether it was abandoned by parties connected with it.”

He said it was “mind-boggling” that the vessel had entered Trinidad and Tobago waters undetected by the country’s surveillance systems.

“The statement by the PM in the House today did not give me any sense of comfort and I am sure it did not provide any sense of comfort to the entire population of Tobago.” Indarsingh urged co-operation between the Government and the Tobago authorities.

Referring to the Prime Minister’s earlier statement to the House, Indarsingh hit, “Ten days you still analysing!”

He urged the Government to seek international assistance with the disaster, in determining the scope and the solutions.

“Lift the disaster tier to level three or tier three and get the necessary expertise and competencies to deal with the issue, because the oil continues to impact on the coastline and the threat it is impacting upon (is) the economy and the environment of Tobago.”

They should also ask the International Maritime Organisation to help trace the vessel’s owners, towards seeking compensation for environmental damage, he urged.

“The EMA and IMA seem to have gone silent. Ten days now and they cannot tell us what is in the waters and what is contained in this vessel.

“I think the line ministers need to step up to the plate and get these two institutions communicating with the stakeholders.”