Trinidad oil spill- Energy Company wants to advise Petrotrin on solvent

Trinidad oil spill cleanup

Trinidad oil spill cleanup

As clean-up operations continue to drag on at beach fronts and other coastal communities along south western peninsula, following a Trinidad oil spill which occurred on December 18 last, one of Trinidad’s energy management companies has suggested that the time may have come to utilise environmentally friendly agents to disperse the oil, and aid in the return of marine life.

Making the suggestion was Trinidad Tank & Fuel Services Limited (TT&FSL), representative David Bovell.

In an interview at the company’s Marabella offices on Tuesday, said while the company appreciated the challenges facing the Ministry of Energy and state owned oil company, Petrotrin in cleaning up the beaches and other marine areas, Bovell said the country may not possess a ‘response formula’ with the appropriate dispersants to deal with significant oil spills recently experienced.

“We accept that there are certain challenges that the Ministry has, recently a national Trinidad oil spill committee was appointed, and it cuts across just about all the sectors of society and responding companies,’ he said.

“While I am not privy to their discussions, as far as I can gather, we do not yet have a response formula in place with products sitting in its own areas dedicated to spills of this nature,’ he said, adding one such product was a US manufactured product, De-Oil-it, which is environmentally friendly.

He said a large number of dispersants presently in use, including Corexit, and which had been used in the Gulf of Mexico spill in 2010, had been proven to be far more toxic than the oil spill itself.

He said chemicals such as Corexit was 75 percent mineral spirits which sinks the oil to the bottom of the ocean where it was no longer visible, but noted that as the mass of oil sink to the sea floor, it would kill both marine and plant life, and eventually roll into the shores as tar balls.

However, regarding De-Oil-it, he said, “if one were to apply de-oil-it, you literally have nothing left to do, there is no negative fallout to deal with.”

“De-Oil-It can treat everything in this Trinidad oil spill from oil on the water to oil on the sand and because it has been so long, and it has gotten harder, it will take that much longer now but the short answer is yes, it can all be done,’ he said, when asked whether the dispersant could be used to clean up the beaches along the southwestern peninsula.

“The heavier stuff that is coagulated, might be cheaper to just pick it up with a bulldozer, but as far as possible, it is coming up again as the tides wash up what is already on the sea bed. It is a continuous problem you are going to have coming up, until the oil from the sea bed itself is treated,’ he observed.

He said petroleum waste kills the earth’s natural bacteria on contact which slows down the natural breakdown process for decades, but when applied to grease, fuel, and oil spills, De-oil-it has the ability to disarm these toxic molecules rendering them to be no longer bio-available. Earth’s natural bacteria can then digest the hydrocarbons completely.

What’s left is an inert form of air, water, and carbon (basically just ordinary dirt) which can then be safely returned back to the ecosystem,’ he said.

According to Petrotrin website, the chemicals being used in the clean-up operations are Cansorb and Seacare Ecosperse 52.

According to Petrotrin, Cansorb works by “performing the dual action of absorbing hydrocarbons, and repelling water. Cansorb absorbs, on average, eight times its weight though this depends on the type of hydrocarbon being absorbed, and the temperature.”

Article originally published in Trinidad and Tabago NewsDay.

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