Rak leaks, Mumbai woes grow

Rak leaks, Mumbai woes grow


Posted 07 August 2011, by , The Times of India (Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd), timesofindia.indiatimes.com

Video Report Link: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/configspace/ads/timesChannelEmbWrapper.swf

MUMBAI: The sunken M V Rak Carrier started leaking oil at a rate of 1.5-2 tonnes per hour from late evening Saturday, bringing to life fears of damage to the state’s coastal ecology. On Sunday afternoon, an oil slick was reported at Juhu beach near Sea Prince Hotel, though it was not clear if the two incidents were connected.

The Panama-flagged, Qatar-based ship, which was on voyage from Lubuk Tutung, Indonesia, to Dahej, Gujarat, contains 60,054 tonnes of coal, 290 tonnes of fuel oil, 49 tonnes of diesel and 4 tonnes of lubricant oil. A coast guard officer said the leaking oil is suspected to be diesel.

“We have sent water samples from the spot where the ship sank for tests at the National Institute of Oceanography (NIO). The results are expected by Monday evening. An operation, named Paryavaran Suraksha–2/2011, has been launched to tackle the spillage,” said coast guard PRO R V Prasad. “We have diverted our ships Samudra Prahari, Sankalp and Kamladevi to spray oil-spill dispersant (OSD) in the sea to neutralise the spill. It is not known which part of the ship has been breached.”

OSD, used worldwide against oil spills, breaks up oil into water-soluble particles. Its use was the main technique against last year’s Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Each of the coast guard’s three ships has over 1,000 litres of the chemical. The Sankalp, a specialised pollution control vessel, also has spill-containment equipment like buoys, which restrict the flow of oil that can then be pumped out.

On Sunday morning, the coast guard conducted an aerial survey and found that the leaking oil from the Rak Carrier had spread in a radius of seven nautical miles from the ship, which is on the seabed 20 nautical miles from Mumbai. Based on this finding, the coast guard in the evening said that the Juhu slick was a localised phenomenon and not caused by the Rak Carrier leak. But some said it was too early to reach such a conclusion.

“The slick near the beach was observed around 3.15 pm. We are testing its concentration, but we estimate this to be about 2mg per litre,” said Y B Sontakke of the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB). “For water to be considered polluted by oil, its concentration must be 100 mg per litre.”

A fisherman said that though the authorities were saying the beach could not be called polluted at present, he was afraid the leaking oil from Rak Carrier could reach the city soon.

An NIO official said the institute is studying the source of the oil, which could also have come from the grounded M V Pavit.

The police have restricted the entry of tourists to the beach. Sontakke said the MPCB is not launching a cleanup immediately, except for removing plastic packets and bottles soaked in oil. “But a full-fledged cleanup operation using gunny bags, etc, like it was done after the Khalijia-Chitra oil spill last August, will become necessary if the slick becomes thicker.”

At greatest risk of being affected by the leakage is Alibaug, unless quick measures are taken to tackle it. B R Subramanyam, director of the Chennai-based Integrated Coastal and Marine Area Management Project Directorate, said: “As per our models on the impact of the leak, oil from the MV Rak Carrier may reach halfway down the shores of Alibaug about 48 hours after the breach. Due to sunlight, 33% of it will evaporate after surfacing on the open sea. But the coast guard must tackle the rest with dispersants.”



One response to this post.

  1. Posted by andy on August 17, 2011 at 12:49 pm

    who is responsible for the sipillage everyday 2y is the owner not responding 3y is the insurance company delaying for payment to remove oil from ship or pay the salvage company 4y is the collector not taking position of the wreck


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