It has been 4 days since MT BW Maple, which was carrying liquefied petroleum gas and the MT Dawm Kanchipuram, an oil tanker collided near the Kamarjar Port in Chennai. While port authorities initially claimed that there was no oil spill on Saturday, they were forced to acknowledge the environmental disaster a day later.
Even as the coastguard and port authorities team up to rid the coastline of the black sludge that is collecting on its shores, nobody seems to know exactly how much oil has spilt from the damaged ship into the sea.
DAY 1- 'NO OIL SPILL'
Silence and denial has shrouded the oil leak from 4 am on Saturday when the collision occured. A press note issued by port authorities, catergorically said that there was 'no damage to the environment like oil pollution'.
DAY 2- OIL SPILL BECOMES EVIDENT
A day later, after thick films of oil were spotted by fishermen and authorities near the site, the incident was termed minor and efforts were on to clear the spill.
DAY 3- CLEAN-UP BEGINS BUT EXTENT OF SPILL NOT KNOWN
The port authorities and the Coast Guard were working together to clean the spill but there was still no information on how much oil was spilled.
DAY 4- VARYING ESTIMATES OF OIL SPILL MADE
Port authorities told The News Minute on Tuesday that close to 1 tonne of oil has spilt into the sea. However, Indian Coast guard has offered a different figure. "It is estimated that more than 20 tonnes of oil has spilt from MT Dawn Kanchipuram as against the initial report of two-three tonnes," the Coast Guard told the media on Tuesday.
The Times of India however says, the estimated spill is 40 tonnes.
SECRECY AND LACK OF CLARITY
On Tuesday it came to light that even the Coast Guard who have been actively involved in tackling this situation have been kept in the dark about the extent of damage. Officials told TNM that, "We were first told that there was no spill and then later, informed about it."
This lack of clarity on the part of the authorities is 'dangerous' say environmentalists. "How can you tackle a problem if you don't have all your facts right?" asks environmentalist Nityanand. "Nobody, not even the authorities, seem to know how much oil has spilt into the sea. They should have sent experts to study the nature of oil that has been spilt and assess the quantity as well.," he adds.
A report submitted by the Indian National Center for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS) reportedly states that the oil spill has polluted 24.06 km of the Chennai coastline. According to reports, the prediction assessment was submitted to the coast guard. While it was said on Monday that 7.1 km of the coastline has been affected, in the next 24 hours, the figure rose by 13.1 km.