Witness: No warning about Delta P possibility

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Christopher Boodram testifies that he felt there was no attempt him and his colleagues who were sucked into the 30-inch subsea pipeline. – SUREASH CHOLAI

THE five men tragically sucked into an undersea pipeline while repairing a vertical berth at sea-level were not warned of the risk of a phenomenon known as Delta P – arising due to a “differential pressure” – in nearby seas, testified Christopher Boodram on Tuesday.

He was the sole survivor of the February 25 tragedy that killed four men – Fyzal Kurban, Kazim Ali Jr, Rishi Nagassar, Yusuf Henry – at an 30-inch pipeline at Berth 6, belonging to Paria Fuel Trading Co Ltd at Pointe-a-Pierre.

Boodram gave evidence for 90 minutes and then underwent cross-examination on the second day of the evidential hearing of the Commission of Enquiry (CoE) into the accident, chaired by Jerome Lynch, KC. Ramesh Maharaj, SC, was CoE counsel and Gilbert Peterson, SC, Paria counsel.

Boodram said five men were working in an enclosed and pressurised space atop berth 6 which suddenly filled with water, with the men being sucked into the undersea part of the pipeline in a vortex of water.

On Monday in his opening statement, Maharaj had said there was no dispute that the tragedy had involved the Delta P phenomenon, and then a water vortex.

On Tuesday, Maharaj asked if anyone had ever told the divers of any risk of being sucked into the pipeline. Boodram replied, “No.”

Later, Peterson asked about an earlier meeting that fateful day and a corresponding toolbox form.

Peterson asked if there had been any discussion about Delta P.

Boodram replied, “No sir.”

Peterson said Delta P could occur if two plugs – a mechanical and an inflatable plug respectively, which form a seal in the berth – were ever removed at the wrong time.

Boodram replied, “We put plugs against liquids so there’s a force and Delta P couldn’t arise.”

He added that he was not there when the plugs had previously been installed.

Replying to Peterson, Boodram said the removal of plugs had been discussed before at a toolbox meeting, and Kazim Ali Jnr, ultimately a drowning victim, had okayed the plugs’ removal.

Boodram said twice in the past two years he had done similar jobs, both at LMCS, Paria’s subcontractor which had employed the deceased men.

Peterson asked if Delta P had ever been discussed in either of those two meetings.

Boodram said, “No Sir. Not to my recollection”

Peterson said Delta P was a serious risk.

Boodram replied that Delta P would only be a risk if one didn’t follow the proper steps for a job.

He explained, “If the line was empty there’s a risk for Delta P. If the line is full, you don’t have a differential of pressure.”