One tonne of oil has leaked into the sea off the city due to a collision between two ships here on January 28 and measures, including procuring oil dispersants from the Centre, are underway to tackle the situation, the Tamil Nadu government said on Tuesday. Explaining in the Assembly the steps being taken, state Fisheries Minister D Jayakumar said, “One tonne oil has leaked”, which resulted in floating oil slicks.
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He was responding to a submission by Leader of Opposition MK Stalin that the oil spill had led to a situation where the fish were facing death and the fishermen in the locality could not put out to sea for fishing. The mishap occurred at 4 am on January 28 when ‘M T BW Maple’, with a flag of Isle of Man, was leaving the port after emptying Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) and M T Dawn, Kanchipuram, loaded with petroleum oil lubricant (POL), was on its way to the berth at the suburban Ennore port.
The port authorities had then said there was no casualty or injury to anyone and also, no damage to the environment.
Stalin wanted the government to detail the steps it had taken to tackle the situation.
Jayakumar said a meeting of officials was currently on and another meeting, to be chaired by the chief secretary, will be held soon which would also discuss the steps to be taken to see that the fishermen and their livelihood were not affected.
He said steps were being taken to procure “oil dispersants which will have to come from the Centre”.
Earlier in the day, Tiruvallur District Collector E Sundaravalli clarified that only the shoreline in and around Ennore and Kasimedu in north Chennai was hit by the oil spill and steps were being taken to remove the oil.
She also said the Coast Guard, Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) and Fisheries department were involved in the operations.
“There is an oil spill after the incident on January 28. Officials, including those from TNPCB and Fisheries, were deployed by the government to look into the situation,” Sundaravalli, under whose jurisdiction the affected area falls, told reporters here.
She said the Coast Guard was trying to remove the oil spill manually and also monitoring its spread and removal by pressing its choppers into action.
She said three Chennai Metro Water’s super suckers (machines, mounted on trucks) were being deployed to remove the oil spill.
Replying to a question, Sundaravalli said officials were also studying the impact of the oil spill on the marine life in the region.
The sea water had blackened and some turtles were found dead near the north Chennai shoreline in the aftermath of the incident.