The explosion at the NiQuan Energy plant in Pointe-a-Pierre on Wednesday morning shook Marabella and other nearby communities, scaring residents. But within hours, life returned to normal, and many residents said they were grateful to hear no one was injured or died.
At Battoo Avenue near St James Street in Marabella, Peter Figaro, 69, said the explosion woke him up, and he ran to his gallery to see what was happening.
"The place was shaking. I saw smoke, and I knew it was an explosion. Then, the calls started coming in," Figaro said midmorning on Wednesday as he picked peas from trees in his yard.
Another resident, who identified himself only as Mr. Bispat, 68, said the loud noise also woke him up.
"It is normal to hear noise, but this was like a shock wave. I felt a vibration, and the galvanise on the fence was shaking. My wife was already awake, and she said the noise sounded like thunder. We did not know what it was at the time," Bispat told Newsday. "My son who works in Point Lisas called, saying he heard it from up there."
At Charles Street, a 54-year-old woman, who did not want to be identified, said she was in the kitchen when it happened.
"I jumped. The galvanises on the roof started to shake. When I look out, I see smoke and fire," she said.
Wayne Peters, 50, said he was in bed when he heard the explosion at about 6.30 am. Peters said he has become accustomed to hearing noises from the compound, so he paid no mind.
"I went back to sleep. These things happen. I was not worried at all, although it was loud."
In the morning, police diverted traffic near the plant's entrance at the Southern Main Road while Mon Repos fire officers contained the blaze.
By midmorning, several residents, including some from Sixth Street Extension, Kitchener Street and Silk Cotton Drive, assured that "things were back to normal."
The Prime Minister commissioned the gas-to-liquids plant a month ago.
Pointe-a-Pierre MP David Lee referred to the explosion as a scary experience for people in its fenceline communities.
"A lot of them were awakened by the blast. As the MP, I have always had problems with that plant and the haste in which it was opened. All reports have shown that it was having problems, "Lee told Newsday by phone.
The opposition MP called on the Minister of Energy to say whether or not an independent safety unit had been established to review the operations of NiQuan while it was being built and when it was opened.
He also called for an independent evaluation team, and for safety measures to be put in place before the plant's restart.
Lee added, "I am happy to note so far, we have had no reports of injuries to anyone... So far, I have not received any reports of any structural damage to homes. But that is preliminary."
He also said, "My constituents are concerned that something like this could happen again."