For the first time since two ships collided at Ennore, leading to the spillage and spread of several tonnes of oil on the Chennai coast, M.A. Bhaskarachar, Chairman of Kamarajar Port Ltd, has gone on record saying the captain of m.v. MT BW Maple was warned about the possibility of a collision with m.v. MT Dawn Kanchipuram .
Recalling the events on the morning of January 28, he said the pilot of Maple , which was leaving the port, disembarked only after consultations with the captain of the ship.
“After the Maple went out of our boundary — the breakwater — there is a system where they [pilot] discuss with the captain whether they need assistance or not. The captain said in this instance he was a regular visitor. Since he said he was okay, the pilot took it to the breakwater, got down and came to the pilot’s station and was watching. In fact, he sent a message that ‘you are going to collide, be careful’,” Mr. Bhaskarachar said. Dawn Kanchipuram , which was coming in to the port, had a pilot on board at the time of the accident.
An inquiry was on and details of the quantum of the oil spilled or in the ship at the time of the accident are not yet clear.
Malini V. Shankar, Director General of Shipping, said at a press conference on Monday that Dawn Kanchipuram had a total cargo of 26,806 metric tonnes of motor spirit and 6,008 tonnes of high speed diesel, which were safely discharged to shore tanks.
“This is a huge ship, it has several tanks. Each tank has to be inspected one by one...and the oil has to be transferred from one tank to another to see what is the leakage. This process is going on, it will take a few days,” she said.
Ms. Shankar boarded the vessel to personally assess the situation and to direct the operations.
The insurers of Dawn Kanchipuram , Steamship Mutual Underwriting Association Ltd, have set up a ‘claims desk’ at M.L.M. Building, 9, Wallajah Road, Chennai, for accepting the claims of parties affected by the oil spill, Ms. Shankar said.
The claims desk has been authorised by the insurer to receive claims from the affected parties who have suffered economic loss or expenditure in cleaning the oil pollution.
The immediate things that will be settled is the amount spent till now by the Coast Guard, oil corporations and the District Collector. The fishermen will come at the second stage. Instead of coming in separately, it will be preferred that fishing societies that are very strong in Tamil Nadu to file claims,” she said, adding that the State government would file a report on toxicity due to the oil spill.
When asked if those working on clearing up the oil spill were exposed to any danger, she said the State government said they had tested the fish and it had no toxins in it.
“We will release the report once the State government sends it to us, she said.”