With the oil spill off the coast in Chennai raising concerns, the Centre on Saturday said a total of 65 tonnes of sludge has been removed so far and over 90 per cent of the work completed.
It also expressed confidence that the cleaning operation will be finished in a couple of days.
Among others, the Indian Oil Corporation was providing special bio-remediation material for treatment of the collected oil sludge for safe disposal.
‘The total quantity of sludge which was removed till February 2 was 65 tonnes. It is observed that there is a vast difference between quantity of oil spilt and sludge recovered due to the fact that the oil gets coagulated and becomes puffy when it is recovered with water and sand,’ an official release said.
‘More than 90 per cent of the work has been completed and most of the residual work is expected to be completed in a couple of days,’ it said.
Further, 'Super Suckers' had removed 54 tonnes which contained 70 per cent water, it added.
‘The Indian Oil Corporation has provided special bio-remediation material for treatment of the collected oil sludge for its safe disposal.
‘The HPCL has arranged for trailers and manpower for transporting collected sludge to Ennore port area for bio remediation treatment under the expert guidance of IOC R&D experts where a 2,000 sq m pit has been created for the purpose,’ the release said.
Chennai Port and Tamil Nadu government have organised medical camps on Saturday at Ernavoor and Kasimedu fisheries harbour.
On January 28, two shipping vessels had collided outside the Kamarajar Port at Ennore, resulting in rupture for one of them which led to an oil spill.
The release stated that as soon as the oil leak was tracked, the Coast Guard started mobilising equipment and manpower for clean-up at various locations and coordinated the operations.
A massive clean-up operation was launched in Tiruvallur, Chennai and Kancheepuram districts by engaging more than 2,000 persons at various sites including Ernavur, Chennai Fishing Harbour, Marina Beach, Besant Nagar, Kottivakkam, Palavakkam, Neelankarai and Injambakkam beaches.
The coast guard has been coordinating the operations jointly with personnel from the Chennai Port, Kamarajar Port, state government and its agencies, IOCL, NGOs, Cadet Trainees from maritime educational institutions and fishermen.
Top officials from Ministries of Petroleum and Natural Gas and Shipping have been deputed to conduct spot inspection of the affected areas and coordinate and review the oil spillage cleaning work, it said.
They also met the state Chief Secretary Girija Vaidyanathan to discuss the matter, the release said, adding, Chennai Port and Kamarajar Port have set up control rooms to deal with the situation.
“Kamarajar Port has Tier-I Oil Spill Response Equipment, which was deployed by the Port. National Centre for Sustainable Coastal Management, an autonomous centre of ministry of environment has been engaged by Kamarajar Port to study the impact on the environment,” it added.
At Ernavur, which had the maximum drift of sludge, booms have been deployed along the shore line to contain the oil.
Further, Coast Guard ship and helicopters were carrying out regular sorties for continuous monitoring of oil slick. If oil spillage accumulation was spotted anywhere, manpower and material under the overall supervision of Coast Guard will be deployed, it said.
The Directorate General of Shipping has instituted a statutory inquiry under the Merchant Shipping Act to ascertain the causes and contributory factors that led to the accident and both the ships have been restrained from leaving the Port.
DG Shipping was also holding discussions with the owners of the two ships regarding the payment of claims, the statement said.
‘The government is taking all the measures to manage the situation. Authorities involved in the operations are confident that the situation is under control and the entire cleaning up operation will be completed in a couple of days,’ it added.
IMAGE: A Coast Guard helicopter arriving to land on top of a ship to take up sprinkling of chemicals to remove oil slick in the affected area on the Bay of Bengal where two ships recently collided leading to oil spill near Chennai coast. Photograph: PTI Photo