“Presence of highly inflammable products can result in explosions in Tondiarpet”

A preliminary investigation report on the recent oil leakage in Tondiarpet found that the groundwater in the north Chennai locality is severely contaminated with petroleum products.

Calling for proper precautionary measures, the report warned that presence of such highly inflammable products could result in explosions or fire.

The investigating team of IIT-Madras professors said the contaminant found in water was almost similar to diesel and suggested a detailed study to locate the source of the oil spill or the leak.

At the request of Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB), the team headed by Indumathi Nambi, Associate Professor and Head, Environment and Water Resources Division, Department of Civil Engineering, visited the area where water in borewell was contaminated, allegedly due to leakage from pipelines belonging to public sector oil marketing companies. The team submitted its preliminary investigation report to the TNPCB.

The report said: “Oil is continuously being bailed out for the past twenty days [from the wells] and has not stopped, which indicates the presence of [a] free flowing oil pool.” The IIT-M experts said: “The groundwater is severely contaminated by petroleum products and will continue to be so for several decades if no remediation is done.”

Rita Chandrasekar, TNPCB counsel, submitted the preliminary report to the National Green Tribunal, Southern Bench, comprising members Justice P.Jyothimani and Professor R.Nagendran, which is hearing an application by V.P.Krishnamoorthy of Old Washermenpet. The applicant sought various reliefs, including a direction to shifting of pipelines from the area.

Coming down on the Union Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas and oil marketing companies for not filing replies, the Bench ordered them to do so at the next hearing.

He wanted them to mention the steps taken to shift the pipelines and other remedial steps.

The Tribunal also directed the TNPCB to undertake an expansive study covering other localities of north Chennai and file a detailed report on September 3.