Since diving deaths tragedy – Changes made at Paria

The content originally appeared on: News Americas Now

Black Immigrant Daily News

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Paria Fuel Trading Company’s HSE co-ordinator Paul Yearwood as he testified on Thursday at the commission of enquiry into the drownings tragedy. The enquiry is ongoing at the International Waterfront Centre, Port of Spain. PHOTO BY SUREASH CHOLAI –

SINCE the February 25 tragedy in which four divers in an undersea pipeline at Pointe-a-Pierre, extensive changes have been made to the conduct of operations under the remit of the Paria Fuel Trading Company Ltd, said the company’s health safety and environment (HSE) co-ordinator Paul Yearwood on Thursday.

He testified at the commission of enquiry (CoE) into the tragedy, chaired by Jerome Lynch, KC, at the International Waterfront Centre, Port of Spain.

However, his reply seemed to not entirely satisfy Lynch.

Nyree Alfonso, counsel for the SWWTU, asked Yearwood to identify any changes made in the HSE department on policies and procedures to take into account the tragic event. Yearwood said, “Yes. Changes have been made.”

Alfonso replied, “I’ll take that Mr Yearwood.”

Lynch interjected, “I won’t.”

“I’d like to know what changes, please.” Alfonso let out a giggle.

“We’ve done extensive retraining with regards to the permit to work system. We would have issued terms of reference for the development of ERPs (emergency rescue plans) and issued it to all contractors,” Yearwood said.

He said Paria has instituted a more rigorous process for reviewing the initial documents being agreed at the start of a contract between the company and its contractor firms.

Lynch asked how would it be more rigorous. “(Are you) considering having an independent person review the application, in the event it is something as serious and hazardous as this particular job or as unusual as this job?”

Yearwood replied, “We would have specifically considered diving, not specific to the HSE department, but to the entire Paria. We have had subsequent dives where we engaged specialists to look at the documents.”

Earlier, Lynch said that rather than Paria’s lack of in-house expertise forcing it to rely on its contractors’ knowledge to assess contract documents, Paria should hire its own specialists.

Asked by Lynch if this review had involved any consideration of Delta P, a surge of pressurised water thought to have sucked the four men into the pipeline, Yearwood replied that phenomenon only occurs in confined chambers, but the only dives recently done under Paria’s remit, were in open water.

“So Delta P wouldn’t have come up but we have engaged persons to look at these documents.”

Lynch asked if Paria had held any drills for its incident management team (IMT) or changed any personnel on the IMT. Yearwood replied no to both questions.

Lynch remarked, “So if this (accident) were to happen again, I think the same IMT would be convened, utilising the same people utilising the same procedures.” Yearwood replied, “Yes.”