Days after the Indian Coastal Guard claimed that the oil has been completely removed, an old report by The International Tanker Owners Pollution Federation (ITOPF) has surfaced, which states that the oil stays in the environment for months or years if not removed properly.
Reporting for The New Indian Express, C Shivakumar quotes the report, ‘A Review of Problems Faced by Heavy Oil Spills’ by ITOPF, which states that the heavy oil or bunker oil has a high specific gravity, they tend to float lower in the water than crude oil and are not visible in rough seas.
"Experience shows that spills of persistent heavy fuel oils, whether from cargo carried on tankers or bunker fuel used by ships in general, are among the most difficult to combat. Because of their viscous nature, which leads to prolonged persistence in the marine environment, such oils have the potential to cause widespread contamination of sensitive environmental and economic resources," the ITOPF report states.
"This is also true for heavy crude oils and those crudes which form viscous and persistent emulsions, and many of the observations contained in this paper apply equally to such oils," it adds.
However, Indian Oil Corporation’s deputy general manager Research and Development SK Puri, told TNIE that the viscosity of the oil was less and most of it was floating and visible and it was accumulated on the shore. He added that some of the oil would have travelled but the impact is not severe.
The study also stated that power plants and desalination plants could be negatively affected if oil gets into their water intakes. It could lead to contamination of piping systems which may further lead to shutting down of the plants. However, Dr Puri claimed that it would not have such a severe impact as the water is treated before being used for plants.
Meanwhile, the Environment Ministry might issue a show cause notice to Kamarjar Port in Chennai for "mishandling" the oil spill, another report said.
On January 28, 2017, two shipping vessels MT Dawn Kanchipuram and BW Maple had collided near Ennore port which led to rupture of a ship and oil spill from one vessel.