Mumbai oil spill decreasing, say officials (Lead)

August 8th, 2011 - 11:13 pm ICT by IANS  

Mumbai, Aug 8 (IANS) Indian defence and maritime authorities Monday said the oil spill from the sunken ship Rak Carrier has decreased, compared to a day earlier and that it is not a major threat.

“The rate of oil spill has reduced to around one tonne per hour, as compared to 1.5-2 tonnes per hour Sunday,” Inspector General of Coast Guard S.P.S. Basra told reporters here.

Along with the photos of how the cargo ship went down, Basra also showed a few photographs of the spill caused after a Korean ship sank with 20,000 tonnes of oil.

“Compared to the Korean oil spill which was to the tune of over 20,000 tonnes from MT Hebei Spirit, the spill from Rak Carrier is a minor one,” he said.

“The thickness of the slick is only 0.0001 to 0.0002 mm. The slick is visibly thin and can be seen as a broken silvery sheen,” he added.

However, some oil patches have also been sighted as far as 12 nautical miles from the sunken vessel.

Basra also said this is a minor oil spill involving a spill of only 340 tonnes of oil.

“There was around 290 kg of FFO (Fuel Furnace Oil) and 50 kg of diesel in the ship apart from 60,000 tonnes of coal. FFO is a dangerous fuel and currently we are looking at containing its spill,” he said.

Stating that no grave danger is posed to the marine environment from the spill, the coast guard official said: “This is a not something to be worried about. Moreover, fishing has been banned on Mumbai and Maharashtra coast till Aug 15, hence there is hardly any danger when it comes to consumption of fish,” he said.

Basra said that over 2,600 litres of oil spill dispersant has already been used to neutralise spilled oil. “However, it is difficult to give estimates on how long the operation will be on or when the spill can be stopped,” he said.

Two coast guard ships, Samudra Prahari and Sankalp, are engaged in pollution response operations and another ship, Amrit Kaur, has been deployed to spray dispersant closest to the sunken ship.

Rak Carrier sank Thursday afternoon, raising apprehensions of an ecological hazard.

Three coast guard teams, comprising 30 personnel, are assisting the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai, the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board and other authorities in identifying and analysing the areas affected by the oil spill.

Meanwhile in a review meeting by the Director General of Shipping, representatives of concerned agencies like the state environment department, coast guard, the mercantile marine department, the Mumbai Port, Maharashtra Maritime Board (MMB), Maharashtra State Pollution Control Board, local agents and salvage companies discussed the present situation, and measures to control and mitigate damage.

Oil samples have been taken from the proximity of the ship and onshore for analysis, an official of the Directorate General of Shipping said.

The environment department reported that oil patches have been seen at Gorai, Alibaug and proximate area besides the Juhu Beach. The oil streak is reported to have stretched up to 5-6 km along the Alibaug shoreline.

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