Here is the latest on the oil spill near Kamarajar Port Ltd (KPL) in Ennore, north of Chennai, and the ongoing clean-up operations on the city's shoreline. Oil is washed ashore on the beaches, including the Marina and Elliots, after the spill on Sunday last following the collission of two cargo ships.
Navy joins efforts to clear up oil slick along the Chennai coast.
Wondering under what law could the court order detention of two ships that collided off the Ennore Port resulting in a major oil spill into the sea, the Madras High Court has disposed of a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) petition noting that it's for the Central and the State government to take appropriate steps.
INCOIS (Indian National Center for Ocean Information Services), Hyderabad, is working in close co-ordination with the Coast Guard in tracking the oil spill.
''We could not measure the amount of oil spilled. Our estimate is that 20 tonnes of oil could have been spilled. We did not use chemicals near the shore because we can't use one pollutant to get rid of another. The onus is on the company to state how much oil has been spilt. They are responsible. Once the oil has been spilt on the sea, it is difficult to estimate. Especially when it spreads over a large area'', says IG Rajan Bargotra (Coast Guard East).
"The Ennore port should have been quick to act. But evaluating an accident sometimes takes time. When the CG reached the spot, the thickness of the oil sheet had reduced. We couldn't contain its spread. Since the spill happened less than four miles off the coast, it was impossible to stop it from reaching the shores," Mr. Bargotra said.
- Udhav Naig Reports
Seventy-two tonnes of oil has been collected so far. Spill has extended beyond Vettuvankeni near Palavakkam, the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) Council informs the National Green Tribunal (NGT). The TNPCB has set up a 2500 metres facility in Ennore for bio remediation of oil using bacterial solution.
On the Marina, Coast Guard personnel, along with volunteers from the TNPCB, KVM Marine Engineering College and the Chennai Corporation were involved in the clean-up operation; mainly sand mixed with tar was removed.
Clean-up operations are currently on at beaches across the city. Hundreds of volunteers and personnel from government departments joined the Coast Guard
Coast Guard officials say that most of the sludge has to be removed only manually. Mr. Bargotra says 34,000 square metres of the sea affected in total. Oil patches found in five different places in Chennai.
An application that was filed with the NGT on the oil spill will be heard on February 20.
Thick patch of oil can still be seen some four miles off the shore somewhere near Ennore. Thirt-four km of Chennai's coastline has been affected, reports Udhav Naig
Work on to clear oil, says official
Tiruvallur District Collector E Sundaravalli says, “Our team of officials are here and they are speeding up the work. It is assessed that around 20 tonnes of oil spill continues to be there, floating and we are working to clear it soon.”
The authorities have said that besides the local officials, volunteers and fishermen are pitching in to clear the oil spill in and around the Ennore shoreline.
A source in the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) said booms were laid at the Ernavur site to prevent the oil from spreading. At least 1,000 volunteers were removing the sludge. Due to wave action and the southern current, the spill spread some 34 km till Vettuvankeni in the south, making patterns on the sand.
Sources in the oil industry said that 40 tonnes of oil sludge removed from the Ramakrishna Nagar beach near the Ernavur junction would be sent to the hazardous waste processing facility in Gummidipoondi. “For now, it is being sent to the KPL to keep it in storage. Usually, such oil is sent to the refinery but in this case, it cannot since it has saline content,” a source said.
'Harmful to the skin'
An expert on oil spills said people should not be allowed on beaches that had been polluted as it was very harmful to the skin and also to inhale the benzene found in such fuels. “The only way to clean the beaches is to remove the portions that have oil and let the sea replenish it because this is very heavy oil and difficult to clean,” he said.