Chennai oil spill: Environment Ministry slaps notice on port, asks for report on damage control

The ministry has also demanded the reports about the “facilities designed, installed and operated” to lessen the possibility of the oil spill and contain its impact as soon as possible.

While hundreds of volunteers, including engineering students, Coast Guards, and fishermen, are putting their efforts to clear the beaches of Chennai from the oil spill, the Environment Ministry has issued a notice to the Kamrajar port authorities and has asked whether the essential infrastructure to deal with such situations are installed there or not.

However, the Directorate General of Shipping has instituted an inquiry under the Merchant Shipping Act to ascertain the factors that led to the accident.

Asking the port authorities to take all necessary steps to minimise the environmental side-effect to this spill, the Ministry of Environment has also demanded the reports about the “facilities designed, installed and operated” to lessen the possibility of the oil spill and contain its impact as soon as possible.

The ministry had cleared expansion and modernisation of Kamarajar Port in December 2014.

However, the Shipping Ministry said over 80 per cent of the remedial measures had been completed and the remaining work would be over in the next two to three days, on February 3.

Minister of State for Shipping Mansukh Mandaviya informed the Rajya Sabha about the present status of the clean-up action. He said, “A total of 65 tonnes of sludge has been removed. Also, the ‘super suckers’ (pumps) have removed 54 tonnes which contain 70 per cent water.”

He also mentioned that thousands of volunteers put their efforts in cleaning the sludge manually in Chennai and Kancheepuram while another 1,000 people were working in Ernavur. He added that more than 30,000 tonnes of POL (petroleum, oil, lubricants) had been safely removed from the damaged vessel, and only about 2,800 tonne were now left in the ship.

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).

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.