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Need to devise appropriate technology to deal with Oil spills

A Major portion of handling of the Oil Spill that occurred off the Kamarajar port Ennore early this year was tackled manually as the machinery designed to suck the spill did not work said a top official of the Chennai port while emphasizing the need for devising appropriate technology to deal with such situations.

The machines were sucking water and not the Oil, Captain P,T Sadanandan Deputy Port Conservator of Chennai Port said while delivering his address on Marine pollution, preparedness, response, liability and claims orgainsed by the Merchantile Marine Department here last week.

Chennai port fabricated some equipment to deal with the spill which extended into the port he said.

The seminar discussed at length the oil spill which occurred on January 28 following a collision between two ships out the Kamarajr port involving a spill of nearly two hundred tons of bunker oil. The Oil reached the shores from the Kamarajar port Ennore immediately thereafter and about forty kilometers of the state coastline was impacted by the spill. A sum of Rs nine crores was recovered from the polluting ship owners.

The official was comparing how the Chennai Port swiftly handled a similar spill 12 years ago when the civil structure supporting the crude oil pipeline from the Port terminal to Chennai Petroleum refinery complex gave in. The port's pollution control cell responded immediately and contained the entire spill in a couple of days. The port collected 250 kilolitres of spilled oil without any external assistance and without any untoward incident.

The Port also collected about 1650 litres of spilled oil from the waterfront which got drifted from the Kamarajar port oil spill early this year. The port d deployed equipments like booms and skimmers at the Kamaraj port area to deal with the spill besides deputing specialised officers from the port.

He said the Chennai port was the first port in the country to form a marine pollution cell way back in 1982. It is a fulfledged division of the marine department equipped with its own oil spill response equipment and pollution control vessels. The cell is functioning round the clokc with technically qualified and experienced personnel he said.

The port signed an MOU with oil companies like Chennai Petroleum Corporation, Indian OIl Corporation and Hindustan Petroleum Corporation the companies handling petroleum products in the port. The oil companies have funded the purchase of oil response facilities including equipments. They are maintained and operated by the pollution control cell of the Port.

Delivering the inaugural address Mr A P Badola Inspector General of Coastguards said the coastguards have submitted an approach paper proposing to mandate pre contractual arrangement by all ships entering Indian ports with OIl spill response organisation.

The approach paper has been ciculated by the defense ministry and comments have been received from various ministries and departments. The paper awaits the consideration of the Cabinet Secretariat.

He said the coastal states are in various stages of drafting and approving local contingency plans for resonding to oil spills in their shorelines. But these plans would be futile without identification of risk, allocation of adequate number of trained personnel and response equipment and resources.

OIl spills and the disaster it causes to marine life is alien to entire population including those in the marine industry. It is therefore imperative that awareness is created among the masses especially to those whose livelihood will be affected in case of an oil spill. Indian coastguard he said has launched Swacch Sagar Abhiyan with the objective of extending the cleanliness campaign to the maritime zones of the count5ry

Mr Badola said the ports should prepare themselves for the implementation of OPRC HNS convention as and when they are incorporated in the Merchant Shipping Act. The OPRC HNS protocol was adopted by the International Maritime Organization IMO to expand the scope of 1990 International convention oil pollution, preparedness and response. The convention aims to provide a global framework for international cooperation in combating major accidents.


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