AN independent five-person committee of energy-sector experts will probe the weekend's tragic presumed death of four divers trapped in an undersea pipeline at Pointe-a-Pierre, Energy Minister Stuart Young said at a virtual news briefing on Monday.
The country was plunged into grief on Sunday night when Paria Fuel Trading Company Ltd declared the missing men dead, with social media abuzz with questions as to how this tragedy could have occurred, whether enough was done to rescue them and to what extent the company kept relatives updated on the tragedy.
Young expressed his personal sympathy to the affected families.
He asked people not to speculate and so risk adding to the burden on families but to let the investigation proceed. He said it was not for anyone now to acti as judge and jury on anyone else.
Young said Paria has been asked to help to give comfort to the families and as much communication as possible.
He said he has asked bpTT and Shell for personnel to be on the investigating committee, which will most likely be chaired by one of his ministry's permanent secretaries, but in reply to Newsday's question, said the committee would not include any trade-union representative.
Young displayed a diagram to show how the missing men had been working at sea surface level inside an air-filled or hyperbaric chamber when something unknown happened to cause them to be sucked down into a U-shaped pipeline with a 55-foot vertical drop undersea, with diving equipment ultimately being recovered 120 feet along an attached horizontal section.
He scotched a rumour that the pipeline had been capped while the men were missing, explaining that to do so would have required other divers to go undersea, and that had not happened.
Pre-empting the question why other divers had not been allowed to try independent rescue missions for the men, Young said that first responders may arrive on a scene without having all relevant information and all the required tools.
Asked if Paria had enough emergency pre-planning in place, Young replied, "From where I stand, and looking on, it appears as though they may be gaps in the system. But again, it is not for speculation."
He said this was one reason why there must be an investigation to find the facts and where any such gaps might exist.