CoE: Should Paria have stopped LCMS removing pipeline plug?

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 Ltd’s HSE manager Randolph Archibald on Thursday at the ongoing commission of enquiry at the International Waterfront Centre, Port of Spain. Photo by Sureash Cholai

THE Commission of Enquiry (CoE) into the Paria diving tragedy that killed four men last February debated on Thursday whether an official at the Paria Fuel Trading Comany Ltd should have intervened when LMCS staff were seemingly removed a vital plug from the ill-fated pipeline, perhaps causing the Delta P (or differential pressure) event that sucked divers into the pipeline.

Paria HSE manager Randolph Archibald testified that Kenson maintenance technician Houston Marjadsingh, working for Paria, would have been competent enough to stop the plug’s removal.

However, while documents deemed Marjadsingh the applicant for the repair job, Archibald earlier reckoned the application should have been split to deem LMCS as applicant for those aspects potentially involving a Delta P event. CoE counsel Ramesh Maharaj read a witness statement where Marjadsingh had said he did not have specialist knowledge of the job LMCS was doing.

CoE chairman Jerome Lynch KC asked if Archibald had been prepared to sign off on a permit to work for the job without knowing Marjadsingh’s competencies on the job.

Archibald replied, “I accepted the assessment by the technical and maintenance department and was satisfied with it.” He said Marjadsingh was competent enough to stop the plug’s removal.

He said LMCS diver Andrew Farah had said the pipeline must be double-plugged to prevent any migration of contaminants.

Asked whether Marjadsingh’s visits to view proceedings inside the pipeline were frequent enough, Archibald said Marjadsingh had known Farah was “one hundred percent supervising” operations.

Archibald said during a lunch break, the plug was removed, but Paria was never informed of this.

He said a dive plan amongst tender documents mandated two plugs in the pipeline to protect the men doing repairs from contamination by hydrocarbons.

Maharaj said the permit to work specified Marjadsingh’s role in ensuring a plug (migration barrier) was used.

Archibald agreed that had been Marjadsingh’s role “among other things” but he did not know if Marjadsingh could physically see the plug.

Asked if it was Paria’s duty to ensure Marjadsingh could see the plug, Archibald replied no. “I don’t know if it was possible for him to see it.”

Lynch however said the plug should have been visible via cameras.

He said the divers’ ample use of T-bars and spanners inside the hyperbaric chamber should have clearly indicated to any observer the work they were doing, to unbolt and remove a plug.

However Lynch lamented Marjadsingh either was not looking or did not understand what was happening, even as the workers removing the plug bolts surely thought nothing wrong in doing that.

Archibald said the dive plan for the job had mandated having double plugs. He alleged Farah and LMCS head Kazim Ali Snr were observing.