Chennai oil spill: Damage much worse than originally reported, 150 tonne of sludge to be cleaned up

One month after the oil spill at Chennai's Ennore port, a report by the Indian Coast Guard shows that over 150 tonnes of oil may be flowing in the Bay of Bengal, against the two tonnes that was claimed by authorities initially.

The report confirmed that the heavy fuel oil tank of MT Dawn Kanchipuram was damaged, causing the oil spillage in the Bay of Bengal. The report follows a show-cause notice issued by the Tamil Nadu government, and reveals the truth as to how the Ennore Port Management hid details of the ship collision from the state government.

According to a report in Hindustan Times, authorities had initially claimed that only one tonne of oil had spilled, and then revised the figure to 20 tonnes after the Coast Guard issued a separate statement. The final quantity of spilled oil, officials privately admit, could rise to 100 tonnes.

The News Minute said that though different government agencies had slowly started conceding that the damage was much more than what was shown by the Kamarajar port, the port authorities had underplayed the extent of the oil spill. The affidavit submitted by the state government to the National Green Tribunal revealed a recovery of 187 tonnes of oil and sludge, 109 kilolitres (KL) of oil mixed with water and 81.5 tonnes of sludge following the spill.

Most of the oil was accumulated near Ramkrishna Nagar Kuppam beach before it spread to the coastline between Tiruvottiyur and Kasimedu fishing harbour, Marina beach, Elliot's Beach, and the Tiruvanmiyur coast till Injambakkam village.

Experts said that when oil is released into the sea, its surface is quickly dispersed by the wind, while sea currents spread the lower layers in contact with the water. This dual action creates a large, ever-expanding film of oil called a "slick". The longer the oil remains in water, the more it spreads, making it tougher to clean. The absence of any modern equipment has made it even more difficult to ensure a thorough clean up.

Updated Date: Mar 02, 2017 17:58 PM

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