I had recently made a short trip to Bhitarkanika National Park in Orissa which is home to over 1500 Estuarine Crocodiles, 8 species of Kingfishers, 215 species of avifauna (Resident and Migratory), 26 species of mammals, 34 species of reptiles, 15 species of fish and more. It is a mangrove ecosystem built around a river system and it opens into the sea at Gahirmatha marine sanctuary which is nesting grounds for the olive ridleys. The Paradip port is nearby and sadly enough the Dhamra Port is also coming in the nearby waters.
In September '09, a Mongolian ship called Black Rose carrying 927 tonnes of furnace oil as well as 24 tonnes of diesel sank off the Paradip waters. Ecologists were skeptical about the effects of a spill on the environment. However the Paradip Port Trust stated that the situation was under control.
Quoting a News Article from 22nd September stating the same.
Bhubaneswar, Sep 22 (IANS) A Mongolian ship that sank near the Paradip Port off the Orissa coast is causing no environmental damage, port authorities said Tuesday.
The Paradip Port Trust said the vessel sank Sep 9 with 924 tonnes of furnace oil. A total of 27 crew members were on board the ship. All but a Ukrainian engineer, whose body was found 10 days later, were rescued. A total of 900 tonnes of the oil was inside the double bottom tank that was fully secured. However, 24 tonnes of oil, including grease, was inside the engine room, the trust said in a statement.
“The port trust’s Pollution Response Tugs and Coast Guard vessels, which are monitoring the area, traced escape of little amount of grease and diesel from the sunken vessel Monday.
“It has been ascertained that the spill is from the service tank of the engine room and is negligible. It does not pose any threat. Also, there is no oil spill.
“There has been no danger to the marine environment so far. Both the port trust and Coast Guard are on high alert to tackle any pollution.”
A section of the media Monday said the ship had spilled huge amounts of furnace oil and a thick film of black crude oil was visible on the sea near Paradip. Dead fishes lie scattered on the shore.
The article may be found at http://www.thaindian.com/newsportal/...100250673.html
During my last visit I noticed certain disturbing signs which proved contrary to the statements made in September that the spill was in control. On 17th Dec, we noticed that in high tide, the water in the national park was dark with a thick layer of oil on its surface. I asked the forest department as to why they had not reported it as yet, they said that it was only in the last 2-3 days (ie 15th-16th Dec) that the oil had started coming during the high tide. The oil from the sunken Mongolian Ship has entered the sanctuary waters. Oil spills can have disastrous consequences to this extremely fragile and rare ecosystem.
Sharing images from the same trip showing the oil spill...
You take a call and think if this is only a minor spill or the beginning of a major ecological disaster.
NOTE: This happening has not yet been reported by the forest officials. The Crocodile Census in BhitarKanika is from 31st Dec '09 to 8th Jan '10