Heritage Petroleum, Santa Flora

Heritage Petroleum is investigating the source of crude oil deposits along the shoreline in Cedros, causing concern amongst villagers and those who catch and sell shellfish.

Cedros councillor Shankar Teelucksingh yesterday explained that between Thursday and Friday, crab catchers and fishermen noticed some residue of oil together with Cansorb (a chemical used in the clean up of oil spills) onshore between Granville Beach and St Ann’s Bay, stretching for about half a mile.

He said those beaches are in a remote area with no road access.

Teelucksingh said the men contacted him and he immediately gave the information to Heritage Petroleum for the company to initiate clean-up operations and pinpoint the source of the oil.

He said Heritage dispatched an investigation team and a sample was taken for oil fingerprinting to pinpoint the source, as there were no reported leaks in the company’s fields.

“A contractor was notified to do the clean-up operations. However, we haven’t seen that clean-up operation commence as yet so that crude oil, I think is being circulated within that area where there is a lot of shellfish and other marine life residing in what we call the red point. There is a reef running out in that area. A lot of people who catch crabs and conch and so on, make that living on a daily basis. We don’t know the effects of what it will do to the marine life. That is something we continue to suffer from the oil companies within the past and up to now.”

He said the response time from the oil company and the Ministry of Energy to these occurrences was alarming.

Teelucksingh said Heritage has indicated that if the oil does not belong to them, then it falls under the responsibility of the ministry.

“Since they closed Petrotrin, what we continue to see is when these oil spills occur, sometimes it is not reported and sometimes there is no response to the urgency of cleaning up the environment and trying to make back the environment user-friendly for the people who use it on a daily basis,” he said.

Former Petrotin worker Tony Bedassie said the spill is about a mile away from the main Granville beach.

Bedassie, who frequents that area to catch crab and conchs for recreation, said, “It was terrible day before yesterday and I ask a guy who went down yesterday and he said the tar was on the shore and the tide took it back out, so it would be deposited somewhere else so it may go lower down the coast.”

He said a lot of villagers fish, catch crab and conch in that area but since the oil deposits surfaced there has been an absence of marine life.

“This area is littered with tar, black fine stuff all over and that will cause destruction to shellfish and other marine life. You not even catching a fish,” he complained.

Saying they would regularly see tar on the shoreline, he said about two weeks ago he saw a lot of tar on the shoreline but not as much as on this occasion.

Bedassie, who worked at Trinmar for 26 years, explained that Cansorb is used to break down the oil and sink it to the bottom of the sea.

“When it reaches the shore they suppose to clean it up, so they normally collect it and then there is a process called bioremediation, where they would treat the oil, break it down using microorganisms and then put it back into the environment safely. But all that went out with the closure of Petrotrin. So it now it seems that it just spilling and they just dispersing Cansorb and they not saying anything. But, we feeling the effects here, it keeps washing ashore.”

Meanwhile, the Environmental Management Authority (EMA) has received no formal complaint or report, either verbally or written on oil pollution on the coastline in that area.

However, the EMA indicated that it would be reaching out to its counterparts and start a fact-finding exercise into this issue and the results would determine the way forward.

Heritage indicated that a response would have been issued, but none was forthcoming up to press time.