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
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.