PORT OF SPAIN – Even as two companies have been procured to commence clean-up operations after a massive oil spill in Chaguaramas on Saturday, the spill is said to be quickly spreading southeast in the Gulf-of-Paria, already reaching Cocorite.
All seafarers and fisherfolk from the Cocorite, Charlieville, Felicity, Brick Field, Orange Valley, Carli Bay and Claxton Bay areas are being asked to exercise extreme caution and to be on the lookout for very large volumes of thick black oil.
According to a release issued by the Environmental Management Authority (EMA) yesterday, the Ministry of Energy and Energy Industries (MEEI) has procured two companies to commence the clean-up of the oily substance on the shoreline and waters in the Chaguaramas area.
The Chaguaramas Development Authority (CDA), which has responsibility for the peninsula has also commenced clean-up activities of its impacted assets, while, the Zoological Society of T&T, is also actively searching for adversely affected wildlife for rescue and rehabilitation.
Efforts to identify the source of the pollution and to ensure that conditions along the Chaguaramas Peninsula are normalized in the shortest possible time are ongoing. Fishermen and Friends of the Sea, Corporate Secretary, Gary Aboud said the oil now stretches from Scotland Bay to Cocorite.
Lorraine Pouchet, president of the T&T Incoming Tour Operators Association (TTITOA), said the spill is causing destruction to both man-made and natural features including tourism sites such as the Nelson Island National Heritage Park and “the ecosystem that inhabits the ocean.”
“Initially, the oil shall coat the skins, feathers and scales of wildlife getting stuck in the spaces, pores, nostrils, mouths, and eventually into their digestive and blood tracts . . . not to mention the fish kill that will occur. The oil also damage and destroys boats, engines, ropes, mooring features and so much more,” Pouchet said.
“There shall not only be the loss of business in the coming weeks as people who had planned vacations or DDI trips will need to cancel, but, also fishermen will need to curtail their livelihood. Further as the ‘angry’ photos and videos hit the print media and sphere of social media there will be long term negative impacts on the tourism product located in the area,” she added.
Pouchet has urged the relevant government agencies to “take immediate and aggressive action to both clean up the spill and to ensure that whoever has created this disaster is held accountable and receives the full force of T&T’s laws.”
An emergency meeting will be held tomorrow at 4.30 pm at the Cocorite Fishing Depot with regards to compensation discussions. The meeting will be hosted by Gary Aboud, corporate secretary of the Fishermen and Friends of the Sea.
Mariners are asked to call FFOS at
355-7672 to report any and all sightings of oil and to call the EMA’s emergency hotline