Heritage Petroleum employees during clean-up operations at the New Cut Channel in South Oropouche.

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As Heritage Petroleum continues its oil spill clean-up in the Oropouche Wetlands, those who harvest food from the rivers are calling on Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley and Oropouche East MP Dr Roodal Moonilal to intervene.

The past three weeks were a struggle for members of the South Seafood Shellfish Association (SSSA) as they said the oil spill in the New Cut Channel, Woodland and Godinuea River, South Oropouche prevents them catching crabs or harvesting oysters, conch and mussels.

SSSA director Asha Sylvan said members’ savings are depleting as they were without anything to sell.

Sylvan said there is still oil in the mangroves, covering the oysters, mussels and crabs.

“We call on the Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley and our MP Dr Roodal Moonilal to step in because some of our people are not working and it is hard,” Sylvan said.

Harvesters usually berth their boats at the Godineau River mouth and the fishing port along the New Cut Channel at the La Fortune Pluck Road. However, they cannot search for shellfish as Heritage Petroleum has oil booms in the water.

While members understand the need for Heritage Petroleum’s work in the rivers, Sylvan said they require compensation as the oil spill affects their livelihood. Sylvan said she handed over documents to company officials at its Incident Command Centre in Woodland last Tuesday. Company officials informed her that they would contact them for a meeting. Since then, she said the company is refusing to meet.

On November 19, fishermen and members of the South Oropouche Riverine Flood Action Committee reported that oil was leaking into the New Cut Channel, flowing into the Godineau River for three days.

Heritage Petroleum responded and identified its 16-inch trunk pipeline as the cause. Up to last week, there was still oil in the rivers and new pool developed on land.