A day after a tanker MT Coral Stars spilled 1 tonne of oil at Ennore port in Tamil Nadu on the early hours of Sunday, the Coast Guard has sent a notice to Atlantic Shipping Private Ltd, the company that the tanker belonged to, directing the company to clean up the oil and make sure that the coastal environment is not harmed.
MT Coral Star is an oil/chemical tanker with a gross tonnage of 25,400. The vessel built in 2004 was carrying furnace oil. Authorities at the Kamarajar Port stated that the spill took place at 4.03 am on Sunday, when the fuel was being discharged into the port through a flexible hose at Marine Liquid Terminal 1.
The notice to the company states that while the port had taken few measures to contain the oil spill, the ship and the company have not yet taken suitable measures to remove the spill.
The notice demands the cleanup of the spilled oil and directs that those concerned, "undertake containment and recovery of oil spilled, take all other necessary action to keep the environment clean as it was prevailing before the incident and take necessary action to prevent further spillage of oil into the sea, including removal of oil from the damaged tanks by transfer.â€ť
â€śThe oil spill likely to drift towards the coast which is likely to affect the coast line. Hence, you are advised to undertake above remedial actions either through local agent or other agencies. Non-compliance of the same will entail this headquarters to take action under 356(K) of part XIA of Indian Merchant Shipping Act 1958,â€ť the notice adds.
After the spill, concerned authorities rushed to the site and the Tamil Nadu government was also informed of the spill. A fence boom was immediately deployed, according to port authorities, around the vessel to arrest the drift of spilled fuel oil.
In connection to the current leak, environmentalists state that if the oil is contained within the harbour, it will be easy to clean up.
Meanwhile, the port authorities and the Indian Coast Guard said that a major portion of the spillage has been cleared.
According to a report in Times of India, an official communication from the Kamarajar Port in Ennore on Monday stated that almost all the visible patches of oil have been cleared and only a thin layer of oil remains from the spill. An assessment on the recovery will be undertaken on Tuesday after consulting with the Indian Coast Guard and Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) authorities.
Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited, which is the consignee of the furnace oil has been told to collect the furnace oil that was spilled and dispose it off later in an environment-friendly manner with inputs from the TNPCB. A report has also been submitted by the District Environment Engineer of Tiruvallur to the TNPCB Chairman after assessing the area.
This is a second major spill in the region since 2017. In 2017, two ships collided near Chennai coast, resulting in a spillage of over 20 tonnes of oil into the sea. One of the ships was an oil tanker, MT Kanchipuram, which carried oil to the port. The statement issued by the Indian Coast Guard three days after the spill, pegged the spillage at over 20 tonnes, and revealed the cover up by the port authorities which had stated that the oil spilled into the sea was not more than 2-3 tonnes.