FINANCE Minister Colm Imbert said on Wednesday that Ministry of Energy staff were trying to determine the source of an incident of oil pollution after having found small amounts of oil, responding to an urgent question in the Senate by Opposition Senator Wade Mark after an online post of a truck dumping oil into the Caroni River.
Very little oil had been found, he reported, but the energy ministry takes such incidents very seriously.
Imbert related that ministry officers had met EMA and Heritage officers to investigate the oil but that none was seen at the reported location in Bamboo #2, after which the team made its way downstream to the river mouth.
A specialist contractor with expertise in cleaning up oil spills has been mobilised, even as the ministry attended to the incident and determined that the National Oil Spill Contingency Plan did not need to be activated.
"Not much oil was seen, just in small pockets with some stained vegetation."
"Samples are to be taken from areas where the dumping was observed and along the river. The river and shoreline assessment continues and as of this morning very little oil was seen." The Forestry Division has also been asked to help with the shoreline assessment, added Imbert, who is acting energy minister.
"I want to say at the outset that the Government takes the questions of oil spills very, very seriously and the Ministry of Energy will continue with this right through to the end after the samples have been taken and assessed to determine the source of the oil if at all possible and to take action against the perpetrators."
Imbert was glad the incident was not severe enough to cause the activation of the National Oil Spill Contingency Plan but the situation was being monitored, for appropriate action to be taken.
Mark, in a supplemental question, asked in the ministry had assessed how much oil had been spilled or dumped.
Imbert replied, "We are taking this very seriously. Any spillage of oil in the marine environment causes damage and is something that must be addressed in the most serious manner." He said action was taken after a resident had reported to the ministry someone with a truck or tanker had dumped oil there, but little had been found.
"It appears on the face of it that the amount of oil that was put into the river was not a huge amount.
"We will treat with this with the utmost seriousness to find out who exactly did this and taken action against the perpetrators."