Sections of beach damaged by the latest suspected oil spill reported by Cedros Councillor, Shankar Teelucksingh. (Image courtesy Tony Bedassie)
SASCHA WILSON

Crude oil deposits have been washing ashore in an area known as Red Brick in Cedros over the past few days, and Cedros Councillor, Shankar Teelucksingh, says he is concerned about the adverse impact it would have on marine life and people’s livelihoods.

Councillor Teelucksingh told Guardian Media that between Thursday 3rd and Friday 4th March 2022, crab catchers and fishermen noticed some residue of oil, together with cansorb—a chemical used in the clean-up of oil spills—onshore between Granville beach and St Ann’s Bay, stretching for about a half mile.  He said the beaches are in a remote area with no road access.

Teelucksingh said the fisherfolk contacted him and he immediately gave the information to Heritage Petroleum Company Ltd for the company to initiate clean-up operations and pinpoint the source of the oil.  He said Heritage dispatched an investigation team and a sample was taken for fingerprinting to pinpoint the source, as there were no reported leaks in the company’s fields.

“A contractor was notified to do the clean-up operations. However, we haven’t seen that clean-up operation commence yet, so that crude oil, I think, is being circulated within that area where there is a lot of shellfish and other marine life reside in what we call the Red Point,” he explained.

“There is a reef running out in that area. A lot of people who catch crabs and conch and so on, make that living on a daily basis. We don’t know the effects of what it will do to the marine life. That is something we continue to suffer from the oil companies within the past and up to now,” he said.

However, he expressed concern with the response time from the oil company and the Ministry of Energy, describing it as “alarming”.

Teelucksingh said Heritage has indicated that if the oil does not belong to them then it falls under the responsibility of the Ministry.

“Since they closed Petrotrin what we continue to see is when these oil spills occur, sometimes it is not reported and sometimes there is no response to the urgency of cleaning up the environment and trying to make back the environment user friendly for the people who use it on a daily basis,” he said.

Former Petrotrin worker, Tony Bedassie, told Guardian Media the spill is about a mile away from the main Granville beach. Bedassie, who frequents that area to catch crab and conchs for recreation, said:

“It was terrible day before yesterday, and I ask a guy who went down yesterday, and he said the tar was on the shore and the tide took it back out.  So, the tide would have deposited it somewhere else so it may go lower down the coast.”  

According to Bedassie, a lot of villagers fish, catch crab and conch in that are, but since the oil deposits surfaced there has been an absence of marine life.

“This area is littered with tar—black fine stuff all over—and that will cause destruction to shellfish and other marine life. You not even catching a fish,” he complained.

Guardian Media reached out to Heritage and is awaiting a response.

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This is a developing story and Guardian Media will update it as details become available.