A retired public health officer says that there is another petrol disaster waiting to happen in Union Island, where a gas station explosion claimed three lives in May.
Harvey Farrell made the claim at the New Democratic Party’s virtual meeting, broadcast on radio and social media Thursday night.
Three persons died after the May 19 explosion of the sole fuel station on the southern Grenadine island.
After the explosion, St. Vincent and the Grenadines accepted an offer by Grenada to supply fuel to the island.
Speaking at the meeting, Farrell noted that the explosion occurred shortly after an exchange between Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves and his Grenadian counterpart over an alleged shortage of food and cooking gas in Carriacou and Petit Martinique, Grenada’s Grenadine islands.
Carriacou and Petit Martinique, along with Union Island, which belongs to SVG, have traditionally had close trade and other links.
During the early weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic in the region, Grenada closed its borders while SVG’s remained open.
Gonsalves had offered to assist, “in a structured manner”, Grenadians in their Grenadine islands with the purchase of food and fuel.
This led to an exchange of words between St. George’s and Kingstown over border closure and the alleged shortage that Gonsalves had offered to assist with.
However Farrell said that Gonsalves’ offer to Carriacou and Petite Martinique was “in sympathy, or playing sympathetic”.
“Now, I am saying here that after that, while we knew what went wrong in that exchange, we had a tragic incident taking place in Union Island. To date, not a single thing has been done to address the situation in Union Island in relation to gas on that island.
“And I am saying here, God forbid, that there is nothing that stops another incident like that from happening again. Because right now, we have people from Union Island going over to Carriacou purchasing gas and just have it stored in open drums. That same thing can happen. Are we going to leave it to come to Rock Gutter? Is that what we are going to do?”
Farrell said that the government needs to look after those things.
Gonsalves told Parliament in late June that the cause of the fire is being investigated.
One witness had told iWitness News that fuel had been seen flowing from a tank shortly before the service station exploded, leading to the death of
14-year-old student Lindani Neverson, Freddy Naert, 72, the owner of the gas station and student Graniqua “Azara” Alexander, 17.