Oil pollution threatens Chennai’s beaches

Morning walkers shocked to find oil on the sands of the Marina at Nochikuppam, Pattinapakkam; fishermen demand immediate action

Sunday’s oil spill as a result of the collision of two cargo ships off the Kamarajar Port in Ennore has been polluting Chennai’s beaches too.

On Monday morning beach walkers found oil on the sands on the Marina beach, near INS Adyar, at Nochikuppam and at Pattinapakkam.

Anusya Parasuraman, a resident of Nochikuppam and regular morning walker, said that she was shocked to see the black oil deposit on the sands of the Marina. “In many places people were playing in the water despite the blackish oil floating around. Several fishermen from Nochikuppam, who landed their boats after fishing trips, said there was a strong smell of oil in the sea,” she said.

Various fishermen organisations have demanded immediate action to remove the oil spills as it is affecting the livelihood of the fishermen.

M.D. Dayalan of the Indian Fishermen’s Association said the oil would affect the sea for years to come. “Fishermen have not been able to venture into the sea for the past two days,” he pointed out.

K. Bharathi of the South Indian Fishermen Welfare Association said the leak had proved that the port had no safety mechanisms in place to prevent such pollution. “They only want ports to flourish but not us fishermen,” he said.

Nanjil Ravi of Akila Indhiya Meenavar Sangam said efforts must be taken to contain the spill, which is fast spreading. “More and more fishing hamlets are getting affected by this oil spill.”

An expert on oil spills, who preferred to remain anonymous, said people should not be allowed on beaches that had been polluted as it was very harmful to the skin and also to inhale the benzene found in such fuels. “The only way to clean the beaches is to remove the portions that have oil and let the sea replenish it because this is very heavy oil and difficult to clean,” he said.

Asked if the spill could be cleaned up at all, he said it was very much possible if effort is put into it. “Looking at the way the spill is moving, it seems as if the volume of the oil spilt is larger than they are currently acknowledging. Oil spills move due to wave action and also through ocean currents. The waves also break up the oil plumes into smaller portions,” he said.

Notice to ship owner

Meanwhile, the Coast Guard continued to clean up the Ernavur junction at Bharathiyar Nagar on the Ennore Expressway. Inspector General Rajan Bargotra, Coast Guard’s Eastern Regional Commander, said the Coast Guard had issued notice under Section 56 (J) of MS Act to the owner and master of the ship, MV Dawn Kanchipuram, over the incident. “Though one turtle was found dead, it is not known whether it died due to the oil spill. It is incorrect to say many turtles died. Our Coast Guard personnel are working towards mopping up the area,” he said.

Tree foundation Chairperson Supraja Dharini said that Sea Turtle Protection Force members had gone to help in clean up on Monday. “We didn’t find any dead marine life in that sludge. The oil is being removed in buckets manually and passed from hand to hand. We need more volunteers, we would welcome more hands,” she said. Those interested can call 9444052242 and join the effort or straight go to Bharathiyar Nagar.

This article appeared in The Hindu on 31st January 2017. Read the original article here

 

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