Tamil Nadu

Oil spill-hit coastline back to normality

Safe waters: Cleaning work taken up off Ernavoor in Chennai has been completed and fishermen were on their job on Friday.

Safe waters: Cleaning work taken up off Ernavoor in Chennai has been completed and fishermen were on their job on Friday.   | Photo Credit: V_GANESAN;V_GANESAN -

Slick had spread to 35 km after two ships collided in Ennore four months ago

Four months after two ships collided off Kamarajar Port in Ennore, leaving more than 35 km of Chennai’s coastline affected by oil spill, the shores of Ernavoor, the ‘epicentre’ of the spill, has nearly returned to normality.

The groynes on the shores have been cleared off oil slick and fishermen have resumed fishing.

There were no major signs of the oil spill at the port that saw more than 2,000 people, including volunteers, engaged in the clean-up operations.

On Friday last, a few local people were fishing at the groynes. “We have been fishing here for 4-5 weeks,” one of them said as he threw another line into the water.

Asked if the fish was safe for consumption, a boy dug into a plastic bag and pulled out a fish.

Fishing resumes

“We caught this fish just a few minutes before you came here,” he said. “See how big it is!” A little farther ahead towards the sea, where the groynes end, another group of local people was spotted fishing.

Raja, an autorickshaw driver who lives in Tsunami Nagar, was making his way on the groynes to watch people fishing. He said the cleaning work undertaken by various agencies was over and oil sediments have not been found in the past 50 days. The locals say the fish was safe for consumption and no health issues have been reported in the area.

An official of the Directorate-General of Shipping told The Hindu that the quality of water in the areas affected was now “reasonable”. “By and large, everything is normal,” said Capt. K.P. Jayakumar, Deputy Nautical Adviser to the Government of India, Directorate-General of Shipping.

Mr. Jayakumar said the process of compensating fishermen and those affected by the oil spill was in progress. “The compensation claims are being discussed. Every claim will have to be examined carefully, and officials are going through the claims as quickly as possible,” he said.

Asked if the department was satisfied with the clean-up operations and after, he said the oil spill itself was controlled fairly quickly. “There have been many incidents (oil spills) across the world. But what was commendable here was the people of Chennai rose to the occasion. Nowhere in the world would you have seen that. It [oil spill] was quickly controlled,” he said.

The DG Shipping informed the National Green Tribunal that the mt. Dawn Kanchipuram had 584.14 tonnes of bunker oil when the collision took place, with estimates placing the oil spill at a little over 200 tonnes.

The National Centre for Sustainable Coastal Management, in a report last month, had said that the flora and fauna, and the coast of Chennai was returning to normality, although some sediments of the oil spill was found in Ennore, which residents now say is completely gone.

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Printable version | Feb 23, 2020 7:44:33 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/oil-spill-hit-coastline-back-to-normality/article19166535.ece

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