By Aarushi Jain
Chennai, February 8: Nearly 40 tonnes of oil sludge and 27 tonnes of oil mixed with water when two ships, MT Dawn Kanchipuram and MT BW Maple, collided two nautical miles off the Kamarajar Port at Ennore at about 3:45 a.m. on January 28.
As a result of the collision, sea water entered the engine room of the ships, which is considered one of the worst flooding scenario for a merchant ship. The only good thing that saved further damage was that the ships did not sink and not all the oil got mixed with the water.
“A ship whose engine room gets flooded up to the water level does not necessarily have to sink. We should consider ourselves lucky that no further damage was done and people volunteered to clear the oil spill immediately after the disaster.” said P Krishnankutty , professor at the department of ocean engineering, IIT Madras.
The spilled oil has converted the beaches into a slushy ground, making it inaccessible to the public and oily sludge coats the rocks on the coast.The smell of heavy, pungent emanation of petroleum and tar has replaced the smell of salt and fish, which was earlier the case.
Marine life has been affected in a horrible way following the oil spill, which has resulted in the deaths of many fish and turtles.The dead bodies of more than 30 turtles washed ashore at Marina Beach.
Nityanand Jayaraman, environmental activist, said, “The impact on the environment, health and the livelihood are closely connected. It should have been contained almost immediately. Otherwise it becomes impossible to contain the spill as the slick moves to the shore and to deeper sea. The fishermen’s business has been badly affected since people are sceptical about buying fish now.”
According to some environmental experts, the spill could possibly have a long-lasting adverse impact on marine life. Olive Ridley turtles, which nest on local beaches between January and April every year, now face danger.