RESIDENTS of San Francique Road, Massahood Junction, Fyzabad, said they are living in fear and are calling on Heritage Petroleum to ensure a safe environment for their families after a 16-inch transmission oil line ruptured on Thursday morning.
This is the third such leak since August 2022 from the 16-inch transmission line, which dates back over 100 years and runs to the back of homes in the populated area.
Siparia Mayor Doodnath Mayroo, who visited the area on Thursday, said he understands the concern of the residents and is initiating discussions with Heritage to remove and relocate the line.
He told the Newsday that the line, which he believes runs from Guayaguayare to Santa Flora, is porous.
“It has been compromised with age, and Heritage needs to replace that line and relocate it to an area where there are no residents.”
In the aftermath of the May oil spill, which saw 14 families evacuated and housed at Cara Suite Hotel, La Romaine, there has been no discussion about a reoccurrence or contingency plan.
He said the only discussion the Siparia Borough had with Heritage was for assistance to inspect buildings along its pipeline route and to remove those living in the leeway.
For the third time in just one year, residents woke up to another oil leak, which filled drains, and a chemical odour permeated the atmosphere on Thursday morning.
Unlike the other two times when the main ruptured, the black liquid did not spill over into homes.
One property, owned by Sherry Samaroo, was affected, but Heritage responded immediately to repair the leak, monitor the air quality, and mop up the oil.
Samaroo chose not to comment on the situation except to say she was satisfied with the company’s response thus far.
Shortly after 6 am, Samaroo woke up to see the oil flowing in the drains behind and on the side of her home.
The liquid from the transmission line at the back of her home was not there up until 10 pm when she went to bed. A call was made to Heritage and a short while later, a team was sent to the area to stop the leak, conduct air quality testing and mop up the oil from the surrounding drains.
No open flames, including the lighting of stoves, were recommended while air quality was being tested.
Heritage confirmed in a statement that the minor lead was observed on a section of the 16-inch pipeline in the Massahood area, that it notified the relevant authorities, isolated the line, and immediately dispatched a team to repair and clean up the mixture of oil and water.
It said late Thursday that the pipeline had been repaired and clean-up operations were progressing.
“The Heritage team remains onsite and will continue to manage the response until the clean-up is complete,” the statement said.
However, Nadeem Ali, one of the residents affected by the August 2022 and May 2023 spills, said the company must do much more to ensure the safety of the people who live there.
“We live within a close radius of this pipeline. This is the third time it has ruptured. Heritage has a responsibility to ensure the community is safe.
“I have been seeing Heritage personnel along that side of the road and to the back of my house every single day. No one has given us any information. I believe if they are running oil or pressure testing, they ought to let the residents know.
“This is our lives, our livelihood you are talking about. I don’t believe we are safe.
“We can be in imminent danger at any point in time because they are constantly doing pressure testing, actually running the line,” Ali said.
His wife, Sareeta Bridgelal-Ali, said following the last major oil spill, no contingency plan was put in place in the event of another eruption.
She said the 14 families were approached by Heritage to sign a document to absolve them from accountability, but none of them signed.
She said oil continues to seep into her yard.