600 tonnes of fuel is intact in the tanks of the ship
Pumping equipment arrives from Bangalore Oil content in the seawater is 20 mg a litre; 9,000 mg a kg in sand Fish samples collected from Karwar, Baitkhol and Devbag being tested
Karwar: Deputy Commissioner Ritesh Kumar Singh has said that the operation to remove fuel from "Ocean Sareya," the ship that ran aground off the Karwar coast and subsequently broke into two, would begin on Sunday.
The company in charge of managing the ship was pressured to expedite the salvage operation. Fifteen experts would be engaged in the operation, he said. The pumping equipment for the purpose had arrived from Bangalore.
Coast Guard Commander I.G. Rajashekaran visited the town on Saturday and made arrangements for providing an inflatable barge of 200 tonne capacity to help with the operation. A Dornier aircraft of the Coast Guard sprayed oil-spill dispersant around the ship on Saturday.
Mr. Singh said a sample test carried out had shown that oil content in the seawater was 20 mg a litre, whereas it was 9,000 mg a kg in the sand on the beach. This showed that the oil spill had polluted both seawater and the beach.
Fish samples collected from Karwar, Baitkhol and Devbag were being tested. He said anti-pollution experts were expected from London to suggest measures for cleaning the beach.
No damage to species
Marine scientists said that much damage had not been done to marine species so far. No mass mortality of species had been observed. The oil content had not reached the sediment. The mangroves near Devbag had also not been affected. However, traces of oil were found on the fins of fish samples. They said the polluted sand should be removed immediately from the beaches before the oil spill settled down. Emulsification of oil had not been observed so far. However, the pumping out of fuel from the crippled vessel should be completed as soon as possible to avoid further damage to the environment, they said.
Special Correspondent writes from Panaji: No further leakage of oil was observed on Saturday from the grounded ship, but three beaches in Karwar and one in Goa beach have been affected by the oil slick.
According to Commandant M.M. Prasad, Public Relations Officer, Coast Guard, Goa, of the 650 tonnes of fuel, 600 tonnes was still intact in the tanks of the ship. As the weather improved on Saturday, Coast Guard personnel were able assess the situation and draw up a plan to pump out the oil from the tanks with the help of salvagers positioned by Karwar Port Trust.
However, according to Mr. Prasad, the ship is sitting on rocks and the possibility of its tanks getting ruptured on account of its pounding against the rocks due to huge waves could not be ruled out.
Port authorities have been cautioned to remove the vessel immediately, he said.
The oil slick has so far spread roughly 5 km around the vessel.