RADHICA DE SILVA
Paria Fuel Trading Company says it cannot comment on a 12-minute video that shows for the first time what rescuers would have encountered had they entered the No. 36 sealine where four divers were tragically killed last February.
Since the video was aired by CNC3 News, there has been an outpouring of outrage from some citizens who say the video was meant to sway public opinion in Paria’s favour.
The company had been widely condemned for its refusal to allow other divers into the pipeline after Fyzal Kurban, Rishi Nagassar, Yusuf Henry and Kazim Ali Jr disappeared into a vortex. Questions were raised about why the divers were not wearing proper hard helmets with a surface air supply as stipulated by international diving standards.
Paria was also quizzed about whether any checks are made into the equipment and medicals of divers.
Responding to questions posed by Guardian Media on Friday, the company said, “Unfortunately, at this time Paria will not be able to respond to your questions as there is an ongoing OSHA investigation; the formal establishment of a Commission of Enquiry to inquire into the incident; and lawyers acting on behalf of certain persons affected by the incident have issued Pre-Action letters thereby initiating the civil litigation process.”
The company added, “Paria will accordingly address all questions and issues arising out of or in connection with the incident in the appropriate fora in due course.”
LMCS, the contractor hired to do the underwater maintenance works issued a statement this week saying it was barred by Paria from conducting a rescue mission.
“Our singular aim was the rescue of our employees. We not only had the manpower and personnel to carry out their rescue, but we provided Paria with the methodology to execute the rescue. At all material times, we were prevented from executing this rescue by Paria and the Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard. We were not given the chance to save the lives of our employees,” LMCS said.
Paria subsequently countered the statement saying, “It was determined by Paria – and supported by the Coast Guard, the OSH Agency, and external experts – that it was too dangerous for anyone to proceed further into the pipeline without posing a significant risk to life.”
The company explained that a vertical drop from the hyperbaric chamber to the seabed is approximately 60 feet within a 30-inch diameter pipe.
It said video footage from a remotely operated camera sent down into the pipeline showed that approximately 80 feet, tanks were wedged against the wall of the said pipeline as it ran along the seabed creating an obstruction.