Dumped oil pollutes Caparo stream

Tuesday, October 16, 2018 - 16:30

In­dis­crim­i­nate dump­ing of waste mo­tor oil in a trib­u­tary to the Ca­paro riv­er over the last two months is not on­ly threat­en­ing the ecosys­tem but is al­so af­fect­ing a Tilapia farmer's liveli­hood.

Farmer Chris­t­ian Pen­co and Pas­tor Wayne Brown of the In­her­i­tance In­ter­na­tion­al Cen­tre, which is lo­cat­ed op­po­site the trib­u­tary, com­plained that they have made nu­mer­ous com­plaints to sev­er­al agen­cies, in­clud­ing the En­vi­ron­men­tal Man­age­ment Au­thor­i­ty (EMA), but have not got­ten any help.Guardian Me­dia vis­it­ed the area along In­her­i­tance Dri­ve, off Ca­paro Val­ley Bras­so Road, Long­denville on Mon­day and ob­served the wa­ter, plants and birds all stained with black oil and the fumes were pun­gent.

Brown said they first no­ticed that some­thing was wrong when the palm trees they plant­ed along the wa­ter­course to beau­ti­fy the road­way be­gan turn­ing yel­low and when they up­root­ed them the roots were stained with oil.

"We called to the EMA, they said they were com­ing, we did not get any ac­tion. We wrote to the pub­lic health, we still got no ac­tion. We com­plained to the Bor­ough (Ch­agua­nas Bor­ough Cor­po­ra­tion), still no ac­tion. And this thing just con­tin­ues and the dump­ing of oil seems to be con­tin­u­ing be­cause it is get­ting worse."

"This trib­u­tary goes in­to the riv­er. You some­times see caimans and dif­fer­ent things come up and they black (with oil,) fish in there too, the birds are black," he said.Brown was con­cerned that the au­thor­i­ties were not tak­ing the mat­ter se­ri­ous­ly.

"This has to be cleaned up be­cause this is an en­vi­ron­men­tal haz­ard. The whole ecosys­tem of life is be­ing de­stroyed and when­ev­er the rain falls very heavy and this wa­ter flows over in the road, is oil in the road, the road is be­ing dam­aged. This is not good. Pen­co who has been op­er­at­ing a near­by fish farm for the past three years said he has done no tests to es­tab­lish proof, but he be­lieves the con­t­a­m­i­nat­ed riv­er is caus­ing the high rate of fish mor­tal­i­ty on his farm.

"The wa­ter birds land in the oil. The oil ad­heres to their bod­ies and they go on­to my tanks to pick for fish and they some­times drip in­to the tanks."

"Hav­ing test­ed the wa­ter I am not of the opin­ion that there is any long-last­ing prob­lem, but I con­tin­u­al­ly have to change and mon­i­tor the sit­u­a­tion, where I did not have to do that is the past, to main­tain my wa­ter qual­i­ty and some­times these tox­ins have a resid­ual ef­fect," he said.

Equal­ly con­cerned that the oil is con­t­a­m­i­nat­ing the riv­er, Pen­co called on the au­thor­i­ties to take im­me­di­ate ac­tion to have "that sit­u­a­tion cleaned up and stopped."Fish­er­men and Friends of the Sea sec­re­tary Gary Aboud al­so vis­it­ed the site and called on Prime Min­is­ter Dr Kei­th Row­ley and the EMA to ad­dress the sit­u­a­tion im­me­di­ate­ly.

The group al­leged that the oil was be­ing dumped there by a near­by truck­ing com­pa­ny.

How­ev­er, the com­pa­ny's own­er Sieu­ra­jh Dass said he was not re­spon­si­ble for the sit­u­a­tion. He said the trib­u­tary is with­in his land, but it is an un­fenced area and peo­ple tres­pass on to his prop­er­ty.

"The land is my land. It is an open space. It is about six acres and I lost two trail­ers that I parked there. Peo­ple steal it, peo­ple dump garbage, they dump stuff. I am aware of that oil be­ing there."

Dass said he hired a truck "to ab­sorb the oil" and as soon as the weath­er per­mits "we will put dry sand."

"That is much as I can do. But we were not re­spon­si­ble for any oil be­ing dumped there. We don't deal with oil. We are a trans­port com­pa­ny."

EMA man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Hay­den Ro­mano said the EMA re­ceived no re­cent re­ports about this in­ci­dent but they are in­ves­ti­gat­ing the mat­ter. He said an EMA team vis­it­ed the site yes­ter­day.

Ch­agua­nas May­or Gopaul Bood­han said the Cor­po­ra­tion is work­ing with the rel­e­vant au­thor­i­ties to en­sure that the mat­ter is ad­dressed. He said ac­tion will be tak­en against those found cul­pa­ble for the oil con­t­a­m­i­na­tion.

"Whomev­er it is traced back to, the law will take its course where EMA is con­cerned and the cor­po­ra­tion is con­cerned and the Coun­ty Med­ical Of­fi­cer will al­so get in­volved," he said.

- by Sascha Wilson. Photos by Rishi Ragoonath