OWTU McLeod comments on Paria pipeline tragedy
Describing last Friday’s incident at Paria Fuel Trading Co Ltd where five divers got sucked into a 30-inch-diameter (76-centimetre) crude oil pipeline as a tragedy, former president general of the Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union (OWTU) Errol McLeod said such incidents are part of the nature of the oil and gas industry.
Speaking with the Express via telephone yesterday, McLeod, a former labour minister, said: “I appreciate fully the operation in which those men were involved. I have not discussed it with anybody and I don’t have a very clear understanding as to the system that would have been involved in that operation, so I don’t want to make any uninformed comment.”
The divers, Fyzal Kurban, Rishi Nagassar, Yusuf Henry, Kazim Ali Jr and Christopher Boodram, were performing underwater maintenance on a sea pipe at Berth 6, off Paria’s west coast facility, when they were sucked into the pipeline.
Boodram was rescued while the bodies of Kurban, Henry and Ali Jr were recovered on Tuesday. Nagassar, 48, is still unaccounted for.
Asked what could be put in place to minimise such incidents in the oil and gas industry, McLeod noted the industry is a very dynamic one and, thus, one needs to be always on the alert.
“One needs to be examining all the kind of systems and the level of training of their personnel, so that you can avoid as far as is possible any accidents taking place like that.
“It is the nature of the industry because it is high pressure and high temperature. It’s that kind of industry where if you’re not careful, if you don’t know what you’re doing, if you don’t have proper systems in place, you would have probably accidents every day. So one just has to be very knowledgeable and cautious about those issues, he said.
The 1985 tragedy
McLeod also shared some insights into the October 1985 fire at Trintoc’s Berth 5 that claimed 14 lives.
Asked if the recommendations contained in the report of that incident, which was never made public, were adopted, McLeod, who was employed at the Pointe-a-Pierre refinery at the time, said to the best of his knowledge, some of them were.
Noting he was on secondment to the OWTU at the time of the incident, McLeod said: “I think that some recommendations were adopted, at least I was told so. I do not recall exactly what those recommendation were, but after any serious incident or accident, it is expected that a thorough investigation would be conducted to avoid, as much as one could, any recurrence of the same circumstances.
“So there were recommendations and I think that perhaps there were more disciplined management of the operations, and there were more disciplined approaches by stakeholders to ensuring the safest possible operation of an industry that continues to be so key to the well-being of Trinidad and Tobago. I think I could put it that way and let it rest.”
‘Accidents can happen if you aren’t careful’ Trinidad & Tobago Express Newspapers