THE group Fishermen and Friends of the Sea (FFOS) has questioned Energy Minister Franklin Khan why there was a delay in charging a vessel responsible for an oil spill in Chaguaramas last October.
“Until an example is made of known culprits, the pollution and destruction of our once pristine land, air and water will continue to accelerate,” FFOS said in a release yesterday.
The group commended Government for finally announcing “civil and criminal action” against the owner of the vessel which was responsible for the oil spill which started around 9.15pm in Chaguaramas on Saturday October 14, 2017.
“From the onset FFOS had identified the alleged culprit and anxiously awaited the enforcement of the law relating to this criminal conduct.”
FFOS said there are several laws that every public administrator must abide by and enforcement of law is not an option or a choice.
The group pointed out that Section 70 of the Environmental Management Act states that there would be “liability on conviction or on indictment to a fine of TT $100,000 and imprisonment for two years” while Section 71 creates “individual liability” by “lifting the corporate veil” on “any person who at the time of the violation was a director, manager, supervisor, partner or other similar officer, or responsible individual.” Additionally, the Oil Pollution of Territorial Waters Act of 1951, (Section 3) dictates a strict criminal liability for damage from oil spills and establishes criminal sanctions including mandatory incarceration.
“While all stakeholders wait, FFOS ask the Minister of Energy why the long delay?
What law is he enforcing?” FFOS stressed that it reported the eyewitness accounts of fishers of the “probable” source of the Chaguaramas oil since the first day. The spill reportedly occurred when a vessel servicing the ROWAN EXL 11 Drilling Rig, (which had been cold stacked/parked in Chaguaramas) when something went wrong with the transfer hose becoming loose and spewing bilge oil from the ROWAN oil rig.