Thousands clean up spilt oil along Chennai coast

Chennai, (IANS) Thousands of people scooped out buckets of thick oil sludge along the Chennai coastline on Saturday that had spilled into the sea after the collision of two tankers last week.

Two petroleum product carrying ships — M.T. BW Maple carrying liquefied Petroleum Gas(LPG) and M.T. Dawn Kanchipuram which had petroleum oil lubricants (POL)– collided off the Kamarajar Port on January 28 night.

More than 1,000 people were deployed here with portable pollution cleaning equipment for shore line cleaning, Minister of State for Road Transport, Highways and Shipping, Pon. Radhakrishnan told reporters.

Three super sucker and submersible pumps have also been deployed to remove the oil spill.

The accident, which was earlier termed as a minor one, has turned into a major one, threatening the marine ecology along the Tamil Nadu coast. Several dead turtles, crabs and other sea creatures have been washed ashore.

According to the central government more than 90 per cent of the cleaning work has been completed and most of the residual work is expected to be completed in a couple of days.

Radhakrishnan said the agencies were deployed and various methods for cleaning up the oil were being used in the operation near the shore and in the sea.

At Ernavur locality, which had the maximum drift of sludge, booms have been deployed along the shore line to contain the oil spread.

He said, so far, 119.2 ton of sludge was removed and the cleaning operations will be concluded in couple of days.

The Indian Coast Guard has also sprayed Oil Spill Dispersants (OSD) for removal of the oil slick. The collected oil sludge was transported to Kamarajar Port area for bioremediation treatment in a 2,000 square meter pit.

“The bioremediation will be undertaken by IOCL under supervision of Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board which will be completed within six to eight weeks,” the Minister said.

The reason for the collision was said to be the rupturing of fuel tank of one of the ships and hence the leak.

The Directorate General of Shipping has instituted a statutory inquiry under the Merchant Shipping Act to ascertain the causes and contributory factors that led to the accident.

Both the ships have been restrained from leaving the Port.

The Directorate of Shipping is also holding discussions with the owners of the ships and the mechanism of distribution of compensation and payment of claims by the insurers will be shortly in place.

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