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Thread: Oil spill threatens turtles in Orissa

  1. #1
    Join Date
    24-11-08
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    Default Oil spill threatens turtles in Orissa

    There is an oil spill in Orissa. The article had appeared in Indian Express.
    Mrudul

    Oil spill threatens turtles in Orissa
    Debabrata Mohanty
    Bhubaneswar: A coking coal-carrying ship of Essar Shipping Corporation sailing from Indonesia that hit a barge at Gopalpur port in Ganjam district of Orissa on Monday afternoon started leaking oil endangering the lakhs of eggs of marine Olive Ridley turtles on Rushikulya beach.
    More than 8 tonnes of furnace oil leaked from the MV Malavika after it hit a barge yesterday, PK Panigrahi of the port told The Indian Express.

    The coking coal laden ship sailing from Indonesia had anchored nearly 2 km away from the port at Gopalpur in the district of Ganjam. Since Gopalpur is a small port, the officials had sent a barge to unload the coal from the ship when it went out of control due to rough sea conditions and hit the ship at about 4 pm. The resultant collision led to spillage of about 8 tonnes of furnace oil from the ship, port officials said. Gopalpur port, leased out by the State government, is being managed by private companies Orissa Stevedores Limited and Sara International Limited.

    As a result, a huge oil slick washed up on the Rushikulya river mouth since the early hours of today. Rushikulya river mouth is located 11 km north of the port. Heavy oil was also found floating near the beach and some of it has washed ashore on the sands on the nesting grounds at Gokharkuda and Kantigada beaches where more than 1,00,000 of the endangered Olive Ridley turtles had nested last month.

    Fishermen who had gone fishing in the early hours of today first reported the oil clogging their nets. They had to return without fishing.

    Gopalpur port officials said the situation is under control with both port and Coast Guard personnel working to stop any oil spill. "The entire fuel oil from the ship was transferred to a tanker within an hour," they said. Two helicopters from Coast Guard are working to contain the oil spill, officials said.

    Orissa Pollution Control Board officials said they are keeping a close watch on the situation as the oil has already contaminated the water.

    "The oil slick has already travelled 17 km up north and reached the coast. It has the capability of affecting coastal ecosystem as well as turtle hatchling on the Rushikulya beach," said Siddhant Das, member secretary of OPCB. Das said the shipping company can be penalised if it is established that the spillage happened due to negligence. "We are seeking a full report," he said.

    Environmentalists said the oil spill could be a threat to Chilika lake as the oil may enter the lake through Palur canal from Rushikulya river. "There could be irreversible damage to the eggs and the sea turtle population which are still present at the offshore waters. Marine fauna which are food for the turtles will be severely affected. Oil can be ingested by the turtles which are present now in the offshore waters leading to their death. Dolphins can be affected by the oil spills," alleged marine turtle expert Biswajit Mohanty.

    Mohanty said the spilled oil has to be recovered so that there is no adverse effect on the turtle eggs or the marine fauna.

    Today the fishermen of several villages including Sanaarjipalli, Badaarjipalli, Gokharakuda, Nuagaon, Katuru, Purunabandh, Kantiagada, Podempeta and Prayagi alleged that the oil spill and has hampered their catch. They alleged that the foul smell drove the fish into deep sea. Salt farmers in the area alleged that the spilled oil has reached the canal. The saltwater mixed with oil cannot be used to produce salt.

    Environmental activists have alerted Chief Wildlife Warden of Orissa and the Orissa State Disaster Management Authority (OSDMA) about the spill urging them to take immediate mitigation measures.

    In September last year, a similar oil spill happened near Paradip port after an iron-ore laden ship from Mongolia capsized off the coast.

    The source article can be found here: http://www.indianexpress.com/news/oi...rissa/605757/0
    Regards,
    Mrudul Godbole

  2. #2
    Join Date
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    Default

    This is unfortunate. However, these things are bound to happen frequently due to our negligence. We are on an infrastructure enhancing spree, without any controls.

    The oil spill from the mongolian ship had affected Bhitarkanika. There were efforts to suppress the news. Some images can be found here: http://www.indiawilds.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2680

    It is unfortunate that there doesn't seem to be any coherence in the overall efforts towards enhancing infrastructure, industrialisation and preserving natural heritage.

    On one hand the Government invites Posco (http://www.indiawilds.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2726) and Sterlite with their huge environmental footprints and on the other hand it seeks to halt missile testing to protect Olive Ridley turtles during nesting. For further details read:
    Orissa seeks to halt missile testing during turtle nesting season
    http://www.indiawilds.com/forums/showthread.php?t=3100


    I am worried about the future, when Dhamra port comes up, the impact on the Olive Ridleys is going to be high. For further details on Dhamra you may check these discussions: http://www.indiawilds.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2107

    http://www.indiawilds.com/forums/showthread.php?t=93

    I hope these disasters serve as a wake up call and lead us to act.
    Sabyasachi

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