PORT-OF-SPAIN — Trinidad's petroleum company said Aug. 13 that crews were cleaning up a spill that seeped into rivers but denied claims by fishermen that the oil had reached the ocean.

Petroleum Company of Trinidad and Tobago Ltd. said it fixed a leak in an underground transfer pipe that released oil into the Godineau River and tributaries on the Caribbean island this week.

An estimated five barrels of oil spilled, Petrotrin supervisor Andrew Sinnon Trunkline told reporters at the cleanup site.

Fishermen at San Fernando's King's Wharf, about 15 miles to the north, said oil was contaminating their nets.
They told the Guardian newspaper that oil had spread at least five miles into the sea.

Petrotrin denied that claim, saying the company collected water samples at the Gulf of Paria.

 “Investigations so far have not established any link between the Company's operations and the oil like substance,” the company’s statement said.

Energy Minister Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan toured the wharf Aug. 13 and said it was possible the oil in the water could be diesel fuel from malfunctioning boats.

The company said the spill spread to other rivers because of heavy rains that caused floods across Trinidad, especially in the southern and central flatlands. Dozens of people have been left homeless.