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Chennai oil spill

Cargo ships collide at Ennore port

No oil spill, say authorities; temporary floating barrier deployed to check for leaks

January 29, 2017 01:05 am | Updated 07:41 am IST - CHENNAI:

Two cargo ships had a minor collision at the outer anchorage of Karmarajar Port in Ennore in the early hours on Saturday.

The incident occurred at 4 a.m when the vessel, MT Maple, was leaving the port after offloading an LPG consignment. It collided with MT Dawn Kanchipuram, which was entering with a full load of petrol and lubricants, and damaged the ship.

According to the port authorities, the collision happened about two nautical miles from the shore owing to “miscommunication” or “misjudgment.”

The Indian Coast Guard pressed a helicopter into action for aerial assessment to ascertain extent of oil spill, including drift pattern. Another helicopter has been kept on standby for aerial spray in case of any contingency. CG Ship Abheek with 200 litres of oil spill dispersant has been dispatched from Chennai for further assessment of damage to MT Dawn Kanchipuram and extent of oil spill from the vessel.

‘No casualty’

“The incident has ruptured the vessels. We do not know how bad or how serious it is, as the incident happened at the outer anchorage. Both vessels are anchored safely and the extent of damage is being assessed,” said a top official of the Kamarajar Port.

Sheen around vessel

“The mishap resulted in a sheen around the vessel. Sheen is a thin layer of oil floating on the water that is caused by shipping operations. It looks like clean white oil. We have deployed oil containment boom,” the official said.

MT Maple reached Chennai on last Sunday, berthed on Thursday and set sail on Saturday. MT Dawn Kanchipuram reached Chennai on Saturday early morning. The ships were being guided by tugs with pilots when they collided about two nautical miles (3.7 km) from the shore.

Asked who was responsible for the mishap, a senior official at the port said: “As we have a Vessel Traffic Management System in place, we can get the record of exact vessel movements. It is up to the investigating agencies and insurance companies to take the issue forward.”

While the Indian Coast Guard has served notice on the vessel operators, Kamarajar Port has ordered an inquiry. Capt. Subash Kumar, adviser, Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust, will conduct the inquiry.

The Coast Guard is maintaining close watch especially toward marine environment. Presently there is no damage envisaged to the marine or coastal environment, said a statement.

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