Chennai: Following the massive oil spill off the coast of Ennore near Chennai last week, the Indian Coast Guard on Friday said that it has collected about 72 tonnes of oil sludge.
Rajan Bargotra, Coast Guard commander and inspector general of Eastern Region said a total of 34,000 square metres of the sea has been affected. “On 28th when we received information about the collision, immediately helicopter operations were launched," Bargotra said.
“Initially, a thin layer of oil sheen was visible and the oil spread subsequently over a larger area. Whatever oil spill was there with depth of 10 metres we used oil spill dispersant (OSD) to neutralise the section of spill," Bargotra added. According to the coast guard, over 2000 personnel from various agencies and volunteers are part of the cleaning process.
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Tamil Nadu fisheries minister D. Jayakumar, speaking to reporters on Friday, said nearly 85% oil has been removed from the sea using ‘super-sucker’ equipment and other mechanisms.
The coast guard said it had used 2,800 litres of oil spill dispersant to neutralise the spill. The Tamil Nadu pollution control board has set up a 2,500 square metre facility at Ennore for bioremediation of oil using bacterial solution.
Two cargo ships—LPG Carrier MT BW Maple and crude oil carrier MT Dawn Kanchipuram—collided 2 nautical miles off the Ennore port on Saturday, leading to a massive oil spill. While the Kamarajar Port Ltd, at Ennore, had initially said that there was “no damage to environment like oil pollution", the estimates and the quantum of spilled oil has been varying over the last six days.
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To a question on the amount of oil spilled, Jayakumar said the port authorities would know the quantity.
The port authorities and the government have claimed there is no threat or contamination to the marine species and that the sludge being removed manually by the workers is not toxic.
Jayakumar reiterated that the fisheries department had tested samples of fish caught from Ennore to Mahabalipuram and claimed that the results have shown it is safe for the people to consume the fish.
However, carcasses of fish and turtles have been found along the shoreline of Chennai even 30 kilometres from Ennore.
An application that was filed at the National Green Tribunal on the oil spill will be heard on 20 February.