Sunday 26 January, 2020

Young defends emergency response on Piparo mud volcano

Minister of National Security, Stuart Young, emphasised that government is responding to the developing situation at the Piparo Mud Volcano.

Young was speaking alongside Minister of Rural Development and Local Government (MOLGRD), Kazim Hosein, and Minister of Works and Transport, Rohan Sinanan, during a post-Cabinet media briefing on Thursday to address activity at the mud volcano and reports that an eruption is imminent.

Young responded to critics on the government's emergency response, saying ‘empty barrels make the most noise’.

“Unfortunately, Opposition politicians are making a lot of unnecessary noise about Piparo, most of it completely untrue and false.”

Young said contrary to initial reports there was no massive eruption on Saturday night but there was seismic activity and emergency responders took action immediately.

"There was no massive eruption, there was seismic activity. One house was affected. Immediately the police service and the fire service were on the ground evacuating the family from the home, cordoned off the area.”

Young said on Sunday night he made a request for seismic experts to investigate the site.

“I personally requested of the Permanent Secretary and the ODPM (Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management) that we ensure that we have scientific personnel on the ground there analysing what was going on in Piparo, and I was pleased to find out that had already taken place.”

He said the seismic unit at the University of the West Indies Seismic Research Centre and the volcanology unit were also at the site.

“It is wrong to say that the government did not have scientific data and analysis taking place from the word go. It is also wrong to say that this was left up to the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service….that is an arm of the National Security Ministry…they were doing their part…along with the fire services.

Young said the Local Government Ministry was on the ground and visited the site between Saturday and Sunday.

“The government has been monitoring it, the ODPM is in charge and we are dealing with Piparo so it is very wrong, its inaccurate, false and misleading...by saying the government is not monitoring Piparo.”

Young added that citizens are warned to stay away from the site for their safety.

“There can be danger in going there….scientists have said stay away from the site. The residents of Piparo know not to go near to (the mud volcano)."

Young said government is doing what it can but it cannot prevent the mud volcano from erupting.

“There is nothing a government can do to prevent a (mud volcano) from having volcanic activity. The government has done all that can be done…but no government has the authority to switch a volcano on and switch a volcano off,” he said.

On Saturday night residents reported seeing cracks in a nearby road, however Princes Town MP Barry Padarath said there had been no eruption.

Chairman of the Couva/Tabaquite/Talparo Regional Corporation Henry Awong visited the area on Sunday night and provided assistance to the affected residents, and seismic experts as well as the ODPM have been monitoring the site.  

The site has been barred to the public and people have been advised to stay away from the mud volcano until further notice. 

The Piparo Mud Volcano is known for an eruption in 1997 which caused catastrophic damage to over 33 homes in the area. 

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