By Sue-Ann Wayow
WITH LMCS’s permission, Paria Fuel Trading Company is proposing to have the hyperbaric chamber-the habitat- used by the four underwater divers before they died, lifted from the sea floor where it currently lies.
On Thursday, counsel to Paria, Gilbert Peterson, SC, told the Commission of Enquiry (CoE) that Paria preferred to have it moved but did not want to undertake the task until a site visit was conducted by the CoE.
Commissioners Jerome Lynch, KC, and Greogory Wilson accompanied by other members of the CoE team visited Paria facilities at Pointe-a-Pierre and the No 36 sealine riser located at Berth 6, belonging to Paria where the men tragically lost their lives on Wednesday.
Members of the entourage, including the media, were able to get a close-up view of the berth and the barge from which the divers worked, but not the habitat that is approximately 60 feet underwater in the Gulf of Paria.
The habitat was attached to the sealine where Fyzal Kurban, Kazim Ali Jr, Rishi Nagassar and Yusuf Henry, LMCS employees lost their lives after being sucked into the pipeline on February 25, 2022.
Peterson asked Lynch, the CoE’s chair if he would prefer that permission be granted to bring the habitat to surface so that he can have access to inspect it and also to not have it “ sitting on the line”.
“It will require LMCS consent as it is their asset so to speak,” Peterson said.
“ In the event that they may not be inclined to extend the resources, to bring it up, Paria is prepared to do it and make it available to the Commission for viewing and after to be handed back to LMCS as the case may be. It is not desirable to have it sit, where it is at now,” he added.
Lynch told Peterson, “For my part, that seems to be an eminently sensible idea. I would encourage it. It is not within my authority, as you will appreciate but it does seem to me wise and useful.”
He added, “I for my part would wish to see it…I think it would make some sense. I see no reason why LMCS would wish to keep it at the bottom of the ocean and I would see no reason why you would want to keep it there either.”
Lynch also said it would be wise to inform the Occupational Safety and Health Authority (OSHA) of the companies’ actions.
Peterson said those steps were already planned to be taken.
“We just wanted to know that there was no objection from the commissioners’ perspective,” Peterson said.
“Certainly not,” was Lynch’s response.
Earlier this month during the procedural hearings, Lynch expressed interest in viewing the habitat that is at approximately 60 feet under the waters in the Gulf of Paria.
It was suggested then that the viewing may be done using a remotely-operated vehicle.
In his opening statements on the third day of the evidential hearings, Lynch also said that the audio and video recording played on the first day of the evidential hearings on Monday will not be placed on the website “for obvious reason.”
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Copies will be made available to those who need to have it, and he asked that there be sensitivity in disseminating it to anybody else who need to have it for the purposes of the enquiry.
Lynch also said that the reports from OSHA have been finalised and were currently being examined.
He said, “We want it and we want it as soon as possible and it should be made available to everybody else as soon as possible from all our points of view.”
Without risking sounding draconian, Lynch said, he was hoping by next week to have those reports and not be next year Easter which is the proposed closing time frame for the CoE.