Mumbai beaches face oil spill, people asked to stay off (Lead)

August 7th, 2011 - 8:28 pm ICT by IANS  

Mumbai, Aug 7 (IANS) The city police Sunday asked people to avoid going to beaches after a cargo vessel which sunk off the Mumbai harbour Thursday was found to be leaking oil.

Mumbai Commissioner of Police Arup Patnaik visited the Juhu beach to check on the oil spill from the sunken vessel MV Rak Carrier.

“I appeal to the people not to go to the beach or enter the sea waters to avoid getting affected by the oil spill,” Patnaik said.

He said that he will ask marine and health department teams to review the situation at Mumbai beaches, following which a decision will be taken on public presence.

“I am not an expert in this field and hence cannot gauge the seriousness of the effect of the spill. I have, however, called for more policemen to man the beaches, especially Juhu beach,” he said.

Patnaik, however, made it clear that there is no law and order problem on beaches yet.

Earlier Sunday, a navy official said that oil has been observed leaking at an approximate rate of 1.5-2 tonnes per hour from the sunken vessel since late Saturday.

“Coast Guard ship Samudra Prahari, on patrol, immediately responded and used oil spill dispersant to neutralise the spilled oil. Operation ‘Paryavaran Suraksha’ has also been launched by the Coast Guard,” he added.

According to the official, an aerial recce conducted Sunday morning indicated spread of oil up to seven nautical miles from the sunken vessel.

The Coast Guard has pressed another vessel, ICGS Sankalp, in the area, he added.

However, the coastal authorities have been advised to maintain strict vigil. “State authorities have also been advised to direct fishermen to refrain from fishing in the vicinity of the affected area,” the official said.

The ship MT Rak Carrier, laden with 60,000 tonnes of coal and 340 tonnes of fuel and diesel, sank Thursday afternoon, raising apprehensions of an ecological hazard.

The 30 crewmen aboard — all Indonesians, Jordanians and Romanians — were rescued in a coordinated effort by the Indian Navy and Indian Coast Guard.

The Panama-flagged ship, owned and managed by M/s. Delta Shipping Marine Services, Qatar, was on a voyage from Lubuk-Tutung in Indonesia to Dahej port in Gujarat, carrying a consignment of coal meant for Adani Enterprises Ltd.

Two top officials of the cargo vessel were Saturday arrested and later released on bail by a Mumbai court.

The duo — Jordanian Capt. Arkan Younis, 36, and Romanian chief engineer Eonascho Eon, 54 — were nabbed under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) Section 336, pertaining to endangering life or personal safety of others.

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