60 tonnes sludge cleared but oil spill is still spreading in Chennai, say experts

The volunteers are using their bare hands to clean the sludge that machines couldn't remove.

Almost a week ago, two ships collided off Chennai’s coast and caused a huge oil spill and till now, 60 tonnes of slurry have been removed by hundreds of volunteers, including coast guard and engineering students. But despite cleaning of the sludge, as the expert claims, the spill is spreading very quickly in the Bay of Bengal.

As of now, the spill has crossed the Marina beach, through strong wind and waves, and is moving towards the other beaches in Chennai. As recorded yesterday, approximately 40 tonnes of oil sludge and 27 tonnes of oil and water mixture were collected and was being dispatched to Kamaraj Port Trust.

The volunteers, including students from engineering colleges, fishermen, Coast Guards, are cleaning the sludge with their bare hands that machines couldn’t remove. While Coast Guards ships and helicopters are spraying oil spill dispersants and neutralisers.

An NDTV report stated that the super-suckers (machines to suck slit from the sea to make it clean) brought in ended up pulling out more of water than oil, following which the Coast Guard fell back on the help of manual labour to clear the sea.

After the spill occurred, many of endangered local species of turtle, Olive Ridley, were found washed up on the shore. The overall effect on area’s marine life is unknown at this stage, but oil spills are known to cause extensive damage to marine creatures.

Earlier this month, The collision between liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) vessel MT BW Maple and oil tanker MT Dawn Kanchipuram took place at 4 a.m. on Saturday off Kamarajar Port in Tamil Nadu, following which the oil spill happened.

The Coast Guard personnel are carrying out co-ordination and clean-up efforts with the assistance of personnel from the State Pollution Control Board and other non-government organisations (NGO).

High-pressure super-sucker pumps have been pressed into operation to extract the sludge. The collected sludge is being transferred into bowsers. In addition, the inaccessible areas are being cleared manually.

According to the reports, approximately 95 per cent of the oil slick is towards the northern side of Chennai Harbour near R.K. Kuppam Beach.