Jerome Lynch, KC –
JEROME LYNCH KC, chairman of the Commission of Enquiry (CoE) into tragic deaths of four men in an undersea pipeline at Pointe-a-Pierre on February 25, seemed exasperated at the poor recollection of a witness at Thursday’s hearing at the International Waterfront Centre, Port of Spain.
Hassan Mohammed, facilities engineer at Paria Fuel Trading Company, at several times could not give an answer when questioned by Lynch and commission counsel Ramesh Maharaj SC.
Mohammed’s role had been to initially set out the scope of works to repair the pipeline. Tragically, four divers ultimately died.
Lynch said Paria had said the contractor (LMCS) was responsible for ensuring the safe removal of hydrocarbons from the pipeline, to leave it clear and dry, to facilitate repair work.
Lynch asked what exactly was meant by the term “clear and dry.” Lynch said, “It means ‘nothing in it’? I need to understand precisely what it means to you.”
Mohammed replied, “I’d interpret it that wherever repairs are to be carried out, the line has to be product-free. I’d understand it that the line needs to be hydrocarbon-free at that point as a minimum.”
Lynch said, “No, no, no. You’re saying it means just a little bit, above the plug? Is that’s what it’s supposed to mean? Are you really saying that’s what it’s supposed to mean?”
Mohammed said, “I understand what you mean by clear and dry. I’d interpret it as a minimum, at least that area needs to be clear.”
Hassan Mohammed –
Lynch said the CoE document was supposed to clear up any ambiguities.
He stormed, “Is that at the very best ambiguous, and at the worst misleading?”
Mohammed said, “You could interpret it as clear and dry.”
Lynch said, “It wasn’t clear and dry, was it?”
Mohammed replied, “I don’t know.”
An exasperated Lynch said, “You don’t know?!”
Mohammed said, “If the line was clear and dry, I don’t know how much product was remaining in the line after that. I can’t say if it was cleared and dry.”
Nyree Alfonso, counsel for the SWWTU, asked Mohammed if officials at Paria had discussed the tragedy.
Mohammed said, “I can’t recall.” Pressed, he then said people might have discussed it informally but not at any official meetings.
Prakash Ramadhar, counsel for the Kurban family, asked Mohammed when he had first seen an addendum to the project documents. He replied, “Approximately a month ago.”
Ramadhar asked if Paria officials had signed the addendum – which was displayed for the hearing to view – to which Mohammed said no.