Kasimedu residents scoop up fuel; third incident in 8 months
It was a different catch that kept many of those residing near the Kasimedu Fishing Harbour on their toes on Tuesday morning.
These days, oil pipeline leaks seem to be perceived less as a threat and more as an opportunity in North Chennai as residents rush to collect whatever they can on hearing such news. The situation was no different on Tuesday morning when reports of a green-coloured “engine oil” gushing out spread around 4.30 a.m.
The source of the leak was the 14 inch diameter underground pipeline that is 20 years old. The incident, the third over the last eight months, happened just a few feet from the water’s edge at Kasimedu.
The spot was at least 50 – 75 feet from the part of the pipeline where the leak happened. Sources said the oil had seeped underground, entered one of the underground drains and gushed up in the slush near where the boats were parked.
While this is what Parthasarathy, a fisherman, said even while giving directions to his friends to move the bathtub that had been filled with the oil, officials in the oil industry claimed that they received information of the leak only around 9 a.m.
The fisherfolk collected oil in whatever they could find, including pots, thermocol iceboxes, the aluminium baskets in which they sell fish and plastic cans.
Though oil industry officials said a team was rushed to the spot as soon as they received information, residents said response was very slow. “We just saw someone come and inform the police inspector, who was at the spot, that the leak was contained. It was only by 11.30 a.m. that a team came and started digging up the cement concrete road with an earth mover to contain the leak.
They also damaged a portion of the platform where fisherfolk sell fish. We want that to be repaired,” said Sathish, a fisherman. While digging up the ground, a sewer main was also damaged, said residents
An IOC official said that lube oil, the base stock for lubricants, was being moved along the pipeline that runs from Chennai Port Trust to Manali refinery of Chennai Petroleum Corporation Ltd (CPCL). The pipeline is also connected to the lube plant of IOC in Tondiarpet. The pipeline belongs to IOC
While CPCL said lube oil transfer from the refinery to a tanker at the port was completed at 8.30 a.m., the IOC official said the product was being pumped from the port to the lube plant. The lube oil, which is also referred to as base oil, is also received by tankers at the port, he said. Lubricants, he added, are made by adding additives to the base oil.
Stating that the situation was under control, the official said there was no proposal to replace the pipeline and it was being regularly maintained. Details of the leak would be known after a thorough inspection. Sources explained that several lines ran from the Chennai Port to Foreshore terminal of IOC, CPCL and BPCL. These carried naptha, furnace oil, diesel, lube oil and motor spirit and crude oil.