(Trinidad Express) A senior employee of State-owned Petrotrin has been suspended pending investigations into the recent oil spill in Marabella. The vice-president of Petrotrin’s refinery and marketing department—who has over 30 years’ service to the company—was suspended with pay, Petrotrin chairman Lindsay Gillette said on Saturday.
During a news conference at Petrotrin’s Learning Resource Centre, Pointe-a-Pierre, Gillette said other suspensions were also expected, however, the number of people could not be confirmed.
The spill in Marabella has caused severe discomfort to 200-plus residents and is expected to cost Petrotrin at least TT$5 million, said Petrotrin president Khalid Hassanali.
Petrotrin also announced the immediate appointment of a local, independent auditor to conduct further investigations on the leaking tank MP6 at the Pointe-a-Pierre refinery and a failed bund wall which was expected to contain oil spillage from tanks.
Hassanali said: “This incident must not happen and should not have happened.”
Gillette said: “When this board was appointed, it set up an asset maintenance and optimisation committee to look at asset integrity issues This committee will now be expanded to include independent consultants and investigators to look at all asset integrity issues. I call upon the president to provide all inspection reports to this committee and for management to co-operate fully.”
On Friday, president general of the Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union (OWTU) Ancel Roget said Petrotrin was attempting to cover up its failings to properly maintain the tank by hiding documents, copies of which were obtained by the OWTU.
Hassanali had said the OWTU was correct in its information regarding the tank but there was nothing to hide.
The reports stated in 2010, a visual inspection was conducted and there was “product seepage on eastern end”, Roget said.
The last time the tank was thoroughly inspected was in 1991, he claimed. Roget added the tank was not designed to hold slop oil (combination of oil, water and others substances) but lube oil.