|Oil spill off the Coast of Orissa
14 April 2010
huge oil spill has washed up on the Rushikulya river mouth in Orissa
this morning. The heavy oil slick is now floating near the beach and
some of it has washed ashore on the sea turtle nesting beaches at
Gokharkuda and Kantigada, where more than 1,00,000 endangered olive
ridley sea turtles nested last month. The oil has entered Rushikulya
river, and it could also threaten Chilika lake, since the Palur canal
connects the river with the lake.
Fishermen who had gone out to
sea early this morning first reported the oil clogging their nets; they
had to return empty handed. The Coast Guard has reached the spot, and
it appears that the oil is leaking from the fuel tanks of a ship called
"Malavika" which was on its way to Gopalpur Port, and apparently
collided with another ship.
There are fears that the oil spill
will do irreversible damage to the sea turtle population which are
still present in the offshore waters, and to the turtle eggs that have
been laid on the beaches. Marine fauna, on which the fish catch
of local communities depend and which are also food for the sea
turtles, will be severely affected. The oil can be ingested by the
turtles leading to their death and the critically endangered dolphins
of Chilika lake might also be affected by the oil. The oil spill needs
to be urgently contained so that there is no adverse effect on the
marine fauna or the turtle eggs.
Biswajit Mohanty, Secretary of
the Wildlife Society of Orissa, is on his way to Rushikulya to take
stock of the situation. WPSI has informed the National Disaster
Management Authority and the Ministry of Environment and Forests, and
has been in touch with the Coast Guard headquarters in Delhi.
Update on the oil spill off the coast of Orissa
15 April 2010
offending ship, "Malvika", was apparently a coal-carrying ship
belonging to Essar Shipping. Biswajit Mohanty reported that it had
anchored out at sea near Gopalpur and was rammed at around 4:40 pm on
Monday afternoon by one of the collection barges that had come from
Gopalpur Port. The damaged fuel pipe was quickly repaired, but not
before about 7,000 litres of fuel had leaked out into the sea.
incident took place about 12 km away from Rushikulya where the oil
spill eventually washed onto the turtle nesting beaches. Although dead
fish were seen in the morning, by the afternoon the oil slick had been
swept ashore and was covering about 10 km of the beach, in an area from
8 km north of the Rushikulya river mouth to 2 km south of Rushikulya.
The Coast Guard carried out two aerial surveys, in the morning and in
the afternoon, and could find no further oil slicks.
Gopalpur Port authorities arrived in Rushikulya in the afternoon (14
April), and with the assistance of the DFO, began clearing up the oil
spill. A team from the insurance company is on its way to Orissa from
London to survey the damage. They have been alerted about the critical
turtle nesting beaches.