The Environment Ministry has issued a notice to Chennai’s Kamarajar Port authorities even as workers continue to manage the aftermath of an oil spill that took place when two ships collided on January 28. The ministry sought information regarding what measures the port had in place for such situations, and what had led to the oil spill and the now week-long cleaning crisis. The Directorate General of Shipping has also initiated an investigation to find out what led to the oil spill, The Indian Express reported.
The environment ministry had cleared an expansion and modernisation of the Kamarajar Port in 2014, in which more funds had also been allocated to “minimise the possibility of an oil spill and contain its impact”, the report added.
The incident has spiralled into an ecological disaster. The spill, which officials earlier claimed was no more than 10 tonnes of oil and in a restricted area, has now spread from Ennore to Mahabalipuram – a distance of 72 km. At least 70 tonnes of oil have spilled into the ocean, affecting life along the coast and hitting marine life, some species of which are endangered like the Olive Ridley turtles that are breeding right now.
Government officials had on Friday claimed the oil spill will be contained within “a day or two”. Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam leader M Kanimozhi on Saturday told ANI that such work cannot possibly be completed in a few days. “It is not possible even for developed countries, it takes weeks,” she said. The Opposition party has criticised the state government for its handling of the cleanup. After cleanup machinery were deemed insufficient, hundreds of Coast Guard personnel and workers had to scoop up oil from the sea using buckets.