Oil in Chennai flood waters | TNPCB officials trace leak to CPCL

The flood waters in Ennore and Eranavur have a thick film of oil. When water was pumped out of CPCL, the oil got mixed with rainwater flowing through the storm water drain, say TNPCB officials

Updated - December 09, 2023 05:13 pm IST

Published - December 08, 2023 01:21 am IST - CHENNAI

People walking in flood water layered with oil on Manali High Road, Tiruvottiyur in North Chennai after heavy rains lashed the city following cyclone Michaung on Tuesday, December 8, 2023

People walking in flood water layered with oil on Manali High Road, Tiruvottiyur in North Chennai after heavy rains lashed the city following cyclone Michaung on Tuesday, December 8, 2023 | Photo Credit: B. Jothi Ramalingam

The flood waters swirling and running through residential areas of Ennore and Eranavur have a thick film of oil covering it. The oil is forming a layer on the walls, the objects it touches inside flooded homes and people crossing the water to get out of their homes.  

A video made by two volunteers of Vijay Makkal Iyakkam crossing the oil-layered waters while carrying relief to residents went viral on social media on Thursday. Vicky, one of the volunteers, told The Hindu that he and his friend Kishore had to wade through the flood water since the residents had contacted them for assistance and had asked for water. “We had to scrub several times to remove the oil from our body. The clothes had to be discarded, as they could not be salvaged. I can still smell the oil,” he said.   

Activist Mahalingam from Manali said that the Manali-Ennore belt was dotted with many industries and several of them dealt with oil and chemicals. “This happens every time it rains. However, this time the volume of oil that has run into the waterways and flood waters is quite high. The Buckingham Canal and Ennore Creek are covered in this oil. We want the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) to take steps to prevent such incidents. We suspect that the leaks are from the units of Indian Oil Corporation,” he said.  

Sources in TNPCB said that two teams of officials had inspected the area and found two possible major sources of oil and several minor sources as well. “We are waiting for the final report, which would be forwarded to the government. Meanwhile, we have instructed the companies that have the wherewithal to take up remedial work to contain the oil spread using oil booms and super suckers. The larger companies in the industrial belt have ponds to prevent oil from getting out of their compounds. However, this time the quantum of rain and flood waters was unprecedented, so the oil might have spilled over,” said an official source.  

Meanwhile, Chennai Petroleum Corporation, a subsidiary of Indian Oil Corporation, in a statement denied reports of a pipeline leak at its refinery in Manali. “CPCL supplies fuels like LPG, petrol, aviation fuel and diesel primarily to the State of Tamil Nadu. Due to cyclone Michaung incessant rains occurred, which caused unprecedented flooding inside the refinery. Other industries of Manali were also badly affected. Despite the flood situation in and around the refinery, CPCL team rose to the occasion and ensured uninterrupted safe operation of the refinery and supply of fuels to the State of Tamil Nadu. Presently water levels have receded.” 

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