The Chennai Petroleum Corporation Limited (CPCL), on Thursday, January 11, in a report regarding the oil leak that occurred in Manali, Chennai, on December 4, claimed that the leak could have happened from their company due to discharge of excess water from the Poondi and the Puzhal water reservoirs. The company claimed before a bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT), Southern Zone that it wasn’t due to negligence on their part. The case was registered suo-motu by the NGT.
According to CPCL, the existing storm water drain in the facility, that lets out water into the Buckingham canal, was efficient and there wasn’t any water stagnation at the facility until December 3. But, according to their report, on December 4, due to very heavy rains, back flow of water from the Buckingham canal was reported, thereby resulting in the failure of storm water drains. Further, excess water was released from the Puzhal and Poondi reservoirs in Chennai leading to the eventual flooding of the refinery, CPCL claimed.
The report said, “Following incessant rains, excess water of around 45,000 cusecs was released from Poondi and Puzhal reservoirs located near Chennai from December 4, 2023, which further increased waterlogging and flooding situation inside the refinery.” CPCL stated. Due to back flow of water from Buckingham canal into the refinery and subsequent high-water levels in the refinery, there may be a possibility of co-mingling of flood water with some significant surface oil from the refinery, while it was released through the canal, the company said.
The report highlighted the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras’s findings regarding the reason behind flooding in the region where CPCL is located. According to IIT-M, inadequate flood water carrying capacity of the Kosasthalaiyar river due to encroachments, obstructions and incomplete desilting was identified as the main causes of flooding in CPCL and Manali industries. The company said if at all the oil leak occurred from their refinery, it was not due to any default or negligence. “It is reiterated that CPCL has fully compiled with all the rules and regulations relating to safety and environment,” the company said.
The CPCL had previously contended that the leak wasn’t from their premises and asked the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) to probe the 200 other industries located in and around Manali. The TNPCB told the NGT that they are investigating other industries. According to them around 24 kilo liters of oil were spilled. The IIT-M has also proposed to assess the quantum of oil in the Kosasthalaiyar river and the Buckingham canal at a cost of Rs 1.04 crore.