An oil tanker stationed in Tamil Nadu’s Ennore released at least two tonnes of oil into the sea north of Chennai on Sunday after its fuel hose snapped, NDTV reported. The spill occurred at the Kamarajar Port in Ennore, around 20 km from the state capital.
An oil spill was reported from the same port in January 2017 after two vessels collided. It had affected 30 km of the coastline, caused significant environmental damage and killed a large number of turtles and hatchlings.
Sunday’s oil spill started at around 4 am after the flexible hose transferring fuel from the tanker, MT Coral Star, broke. “Suddenly, one of its flexible pipes broke, resulting in a small amount of oil spill on the berth and around the ship,” said Kamarajar Port’s Chairman and Managing Director P Raveendran. “Skimmers were being used to remove the oil from the water.”
Built in 2004, MT Coral Star is an oil tanker with a gross tonnage of 25,400, The News Minute reported. It was carrying furnace oil.
“Preliminary estimate of spilled fuel oil quantity is less than 2 tonnes,” port authorities said in a statement. “The emergency response mechanism was immediately activated and all concerned agencies, including the Coast Guard, swung in action to attend and mitigate the situation.”
Raveendran added that 80% of the spilled oil has been contained within the boom – floating barriers installed to contain leaks – and has not spread out into the sea.
Officials of the Indian Coast Guard and the Mercantile Marine Department are monitoring the situation. Coast Guard officials conducted an aerial survey and used an interceptor boat for seaside reconnaissance to assess the spillage. “Visually, it was observed that the spillage is confined within the breakwater area of the port and mostly within the fenced boom area,” the statement added.
Director General of Shipping Malini V Shankar said a probe has been ordered, The New Indian Express reported. “An investigation is on whether it is due to equipment failure or callousness of the ship,” she said.
Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board member-secretary D Sekar said board officials had visited the site.
Tami Nadu Fisheries Department Director GS Sameeran said they have collected samples from nearby fishing villages. “As of now, there are no reports of death of fishes,” he said.