The leak occurred while oil was being pumped from a refinery to a tanker at Chennai port

Base lube oil leaked from an underground pipeline on the Ennore Expressway in north Chennai on Sunday morning. Residents of Kasimedu were found collecting large quantities of the oil.

The leak occurred when oil belonging to the Indian Oil Corporation Ltd was being pumped from the Chennai Petroleum Corporation Ltd’s refinery in Manali to an oil tanker at Chennai Port. The base oil was being loaded onto the 6000-tonne tanker Crystal to be taken to IOCL’s lube blending plant in Kolkata.

M. Balu, a fisherman, said people had told him about the leak by 5 a.m. and many went to the spot to collect the thick green-coloured liquid that had collected on the eastern side of the road.

“We know this is not petrol or diesel but we can use it to grease our boats and engines,” he said. People were seen collecting the base oil in plastic containers, PET bottles and pots.

CPCL sources said that the pumping was stopped by 7.30 a.m. when they got information about the leak from IOCL, whose patrol had spotted the oil.

“The leak was very small and could have been caused due to excess pressure from the weight of heavy container trucks that use the road. We had conducted various checks on the pipeline only recently,” explained a source in the IOCL.

Officials of both the companies rushed to the spot and took steps to contain the leak, which was set right with pumping restored by 7 p.m.