Mangalore--Details From Oil Spill of 3/6/00 : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

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Spill found to have occurred at MRPL jetty - Was the oil spill actually 20,000 lts?

From Varadesh T Hiregang DH News Service - MANGALORE, March 8

While the oil spill report published in Deccan Herald on March 6 has exposed the ''sinking spill`` it has been reliably learnt that the oil spill had taken place at the MRPL jetty (Jetty No 10) on February 28 when the furnace oil was being loaded into the Vishwadooth of the Mumbai-based Varun Shipping Company.

Even though, the NMPT had earlier admitted that the oil spill had taken place, it still maintained in a section of the press that the spill could be to the tune of ''500 to 2000 litres`` . But Deccan Herald sources have once again confirmed that the leakage was undoubtedly more than 20,000 litres. Moreover, many other details are also available right now.

The MRPL jetty is located on the left side of the NMPT main entrance and it is a protected zone. The sources have maintained that certainly there was ''no immediate action`` on the part of the port and the oil was seen floating on the sea. The NMPT might have acted now, but the oil stains are ''still`` visible on the pillars of the MRPL jetty and on the boulders meant to arrest the sea erosion.

Even according to the most minimum and approximate estimates, the oil was spread along an area of about 250 x 100 meters, which comes up to 25,000 sq meters. The oil required to form a layer on 25,000 sq meters is not less than 20,000 litres, the sources said. Moreover NMPT sources themselves have confirmed that the ship was loaded with 20,000 metric tonnes of furnace oil.

Responding to the reported claim made by the NMPT Chairman Capt R Ram Kumar that ''dispersement chemicals`` were ''immediately`` used to handle the situation, the sources dismissed it as an ''inadequate reply``. The spill of such an enormous scale could only be handled with the technique of ''oil boom`` and ''skimmers``. The most unfortunate fact is that the NMPT is not equipped with the expertise to execute ''oil boom`` and ''skimmers``.

Significantly, the NMPT officials have admitted that it was difficult in the beginning to trace out the source of the leakage. They have also stated that the contingency forces were also brought from MRPL and HPCL. The sources wonder what necessitated such a panic in NMPT if it was a mere ''storm in a tea cup`` as reportedly described by the NMPT. Moreover, no ship is legally permitted to wash its tanks within the territorial waters and economic zone of any country. So the report, in a section of the press, that the ship flushed its tanks is also invalid, or liable for penal action.

The effect of the ''oil spill exposure`` has already been felt. The NMPT has reportedly ''relieved`` one engineer of his post who was in-charge of the pollution control. The Mangalore unit of the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board has visited the site. The fishermen leaders have expressed concern over the implications of the oil spill. Even a drop of oil spill could have created furore in many countries. But it is unfortunate that the NMPT Chairman has described it as ''minor`` even if the volume is just 2000 litres. It is only symptomatic of the callousness in the Indian port, the sources rued.

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-- Dee (, March 09, 2000

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