An oil tank ruptured at Heritage Petroleum’s base in Point Fortin Sunday evening, cascading 628,000 barrels of salt water mixed with oil remnants into three communities.
Up to late this evening, areas of the Newlands community were still under water.
Due to the strong fumes from the oil slick, several residents began experiencing headaches, nausea and dizziness.
Heritage Petroleum activated it’s emergency response, including its ambulance and fire services, to assess the situation and render aid and medical assistance to affected persons. Workers were also said to trapped on the compound which was previously known as Trinmar.
Guardian Media was told that last week the company hired contractors to pump sea water into the tank as part of a hydrotest to ascertain the integrity of the tank before it was used to store oil. However, the tank burst this evening sending the oil slick gushing into the compound, roadways and communities.
Point Fortin Mayor Kennedy Richards Jr told Guardian Media that several residents complained about feeling unwell and have been restricted from using open flames as a safety precaution.
As a result, he said they cannot light their stoves.
Richards said he was also experiencing dizziness after an hour and half in the affected areas.
While the water has subsided considerably, some areas of Newlands were still under water.
It is unclear if residents had to be evacuated or taken for medical treatment. This is a developing story and will be updated as more information comes to hand.
The company issued a statement on the matter on Sunday evening.
“Today, Sunday 07 June 2020, at around 5:55 PM, Heritage Petroleum Company Limited was in the process of conducting an engineered hydro test to assess the integrity of Tank 27 at the Adventure Tank Farm in Pt Fortin when there was a failure of the tank wall causing a leak.
The leak caused the sea water, utilised in the hydro test, to flow out of the tank, overflowing the bunded area and into the roadway and the nearby Atlantic LNG compound.
The sea water would also have caused the overflow of residual oil from the sump pit located at the tank farm. The water subsided within two-hours, and clean-up operations are currently ongoing.
There have been no reported injuries as a result of this incident and Heritage is continuing to monitor the situation. Heritage’s Incident Command and HSSE teams are on site and managing the situation.”