AFTER an explosion at NiQuan Energy Ltd's gas-to-liquids plant, leader of the Movement for Social Justice (MSJ) David Abdulah has said that if the Pointe-a-Pierre refinery were run by Patriotic Energies and Technologies Ltd, safety would have been a top priority.
He said NiQuan is "not operating in a proper way."
The Prime Minister opened the plant, the first of its kind in the western hemisphere, on March 8.
But on Wednesday, hydrocracker system failed during an attempted startup and exploded. It also caused a fire, which was contained by officers from the Mon Repos Fire Station.
The Energy Ministry, the Occupational Safety and Health Authority and Agency (OSHA) and the Environmental Management Authority have since begun investigating the cause of the failure.
Abdulah visited residents of Silk Cotton Drive, Marabella on Thursday morning after "a number of the residents reached out" to him. he said.
"There are hundreds of people who live in this community that have been living there for decades and as was said yesterday by a number of residents, when Petrotrin was in charge of the refinery, there would have been regular interaction with Petrotrin officials at the community related to health, safety and the environment...whether it was an oil spill that went into the river, the gas flare, explosions, noise, and so on and the safety drills..."
He said NiQuan has done nothing of the sort thus far and must run the plant properly way and communicate with residents of the fenceline communities.
"It is very clear NiQuan got a plant to operate under terms that were far more favourable than the government was prepared to give to Patriotic. Patriotic would have done things in a proper way."
Patriotic, which belongs to the Oilfields Workers' Trade Union, has been blanked three times so far by the government over acquiring the refinery.
He said, "I'm well aware that had Patriotic got the refinery – because what NiQuan is operating would not have been part of Patriotic's operations – but Patriotic would ensure that the refinery could be restored safely without any danger and would have ensured that hundreds of people from fenceline communities would have got employment.
"But it seems like it is different strokes for different folks."