ALMOST aweek has passed since a 16-inch trunk pipeline began leak crude oil into the Godineau River in South Oropouche, but exactly when the oil spill would be completely cleared up is still unknown. Heritage Petroleum Company Ltd said they are still unsure when the matter would be resolved, as bad weather has slowed the process.
Corporate communications manager Arlene Gorin-George told Newsday on Thursday, “Our contractors have engaged the services of the fishermen and crab catchers to help clean up the mangrove, but the weather conditions have been hampering our progress. We are trying to get this done as soon as possible.”
She added that the company had also been engaged with the people who were directly affected by the oil spill and also denied that it was destroying the riverbanks. Earlier this week fishermen claimed the company was cutting down the riverbank to create an access road for oil spill.
Gorin-George said, “I cannot comment about any cutting-down. That is not what we are there for. We are there to clean up and fix the leak. We are not there to destroy anything. We are there to ensure that any negative impact of the oil spill is minimised.
“We are also treating with the people who have lost earnings as a result of the spill. We currently have staff at the site, and they have been receiving claim letters.”
MP for the area Dave Tancoo told Newsday that his office has been trying to get in contact with Heritage and the Environmental Management Authority (EMA) about the issue, but all their attempts have failed.
“I have written to Heritage and the EMA asking for a meeting and we have not had the courtesy of a response yet. These letters were issued on Monday and it is now Thursday.
“We have started preparing claims. Instead of the company reaching out to them, the affected people have contacted us to find out if we can do a joint approach to Heritage to get compensation.
“I do want to give Heritage the chance to respond before we engage in any type of protest.”
Gorin-George denied Tancoo’s claim that the company had not responded to his letters.
She added that the company was trying to set up a meeting with Tancoo and representatives for the community to discuss compensation and other issues.
“We did receive a letter from Tancoo asking us for a meeting which we have responded to. It probably has not gotten to him as yet. We are hoping that the meeting takes place next week. We are trying to see which day will be convenient for everyone.”
The EMA, via a media release, said it continued to monitor the response plan undertaken by Heritage.