Blockages have been cleared and floods have subsided but residents of Palo Seco and Erin are now fleeing their homes as oil, dispersed by the floods, have contaminated their surroundings.
Yesterday, ducks and chickens were spattered with oil which flowed through farmlands at Carapal Village, Palo Seco and Happy Valley, Erin.
Thick black crude floated on the Carapal River, which flows into the Gulf of Paria.
While booms were placed to collect the oil, much of it had spread inside people’s homes and on their vehicles.
Resident Kevin Thompson said, “I had to send my family away because of the oil and the scent. It was terrible. The oil was black. I work on rigs so I know what is crude oil. All our clothes got oil -soaked. Even my daughter’s trampoline got damaged,” he said.
Shantelly Alleyne also said her family fell sick from the scent of the oil.
“The flood came into the house. This is the highest that it ever came. It destroyed furniture, the nightstand and the chest of drawers start to swell,” Alleyne said.
Farmer Edwin Gervais said his crops of dasheen and coconut were affected.
“You wouldn’t see it now. The oil will penetrate the crops and the land and damage the crops. Nobody is talking compensation yet. This has to be the company oil,” he added.
Los Iros Farmers’ Association president Rishi Ramraj said fields of bananas were also destroyed.
“Yesterday we got big floods and when the residents and farmers came out, they see oil in the Carapal river flowing straight to the sea. It has gone through all the lands and damaged crops. This is a flat land area and in the wet season, we don’t have much agriculture right now. On the river, there is a big pool of black crude which is smelling very high,” Ramraj said.
He explained that he had already reached out to the Ministry of Agriculture and was told that field officers will visit the area to assess damage once the floods subside.
“Farmers will be going to the ministry tomorrow (today) to report it,” said Ramraj.
In a statement, Heritage Petroleum said its Spill Response Team had been investigating the source of the oil.
“The Heritage team determined that the source was an over-flowing oil pit operated by lease operator Jasmin Oil and Gas Limited. The lease operator was contacted and informed of the incident. Due to flooding in the area, the leaked oil has impacted vegetation and properties in the vicinity of the oil pit,” Heritage said.
“The operator has been unable to access the affected areas which are inaccessible due to rising floodwaters. A team led by Jasmin Oil and Gas Limited will visit the affected areas as soon as they become accessible to assess the impact of the oil spill,” the company added.
Due to flooding in the area, the leaked oil has impacted vegetation and properties near the oil pit.
Heritage Petroleum said Jasmin Oil and Gas Limited will continue to monitor the impacted areas and conduct air quality testing throughout the period.
Officials from the EMA have also visited the scene.
On Sunday, swirling floodwaters covered parts of Palo Seco, triggering five landslides, one of which killed security officer Christopher Samuel.
His wife Alma Archargee and other family members have been offered emergency housing by La Brea MP Stephen Mc Clashie.
A landslide along the SS Erin Road in Buenos Ayres also cut off access but it was cleared by teams from the Siparia Regional Corporation and the Ministry of Works.