Four days after O Panneerselvam visited the site of the Chennai oil spill and declared that 90% of the clean-up efforts had been completed, the port authorities and the Indian Coast Guard can’t agree on how much of the clean-up operations have been completed and what remains to be done.
While a top official of the Kamarajar Port told The News Minute that the sludge from the spill had been entirely cleared from the water, an officer of the Indian Coast Guard said that the cleanup process had to continue further.
“A total of 300 tonnes of sludge – a combination of oil, sand and water – has been collected and shifted to the bio-remediation pit. All the oil in the sea has been removed. Only the oil on the rocks is there. That will be cleaned in the next two-three days,” the port official claimed.
“The cleanup process of the rocks will be carried by the Tamil Nadu government and the Pollution Control Board,” the official added.
Refuting this version, however, a Coast Guard Official told TNM, on condition of anonymity, that the cleaning process in the water was “still on” on Thursday evening.
“The work at the stretch between Bhartiyar Nagar and Ernavur is still in the process. There are small accumulations in some parts on this stretch. The work will be complete in the next three days,” the officer told TNM.
On the oil covering the rocks and trapped among them, Pooja Kumar of the Coastal Research Centre said that this oil had to be cleaned up immediately if the entire area had to be freed of sludge. If this is not done, she explains, this oil will seep back to the sea and affect marine life.
Besides this oil, Pooja says, many parts of the coast are also littered with the debris of the clean-up process, including gloves, buckets and boots used by volunteers and officials.
The oil spill at Ennore, on the outskirts of Chennai, resulted from the collision on January 28 of two merchant ships carrying LPG and crude oil. While port authorities had initially denied reports of an oil spill, it was later found that an unknown quantity of oil had spilled into the ocean. The port authorities were criticised for downplaying the spill for many days. The spill spread to a distance of around 35km before clean-up operations arrested the situation and began reversing it.
Source: The News Minute