Indian oil spill clean-up efforts criticised

Indian authorities are coming under increasing criticism for their lack of oil spill clean-up infrastructure. In the wake up of a collision between a VLGC and a product tanker off Chennai in the early hours of Saturday morning, tonnes of fuel has washed up on beaches on the east coast of India with the coast guard struggling to contain the spill.

The spill has now spread more than 25 km from the original accident location, with just a fraction of the leaked fuel picked up so far. Officials claim around six tonnes of fuel has been picked up so far, but there are many more tonnes to go. Images from India show lines of workers using buckets to scoop up sludge as the local coast guard has just two submersible pumps to hand. An effort to deploy a boom around the incident clearly failed, not helped by reports of strong winds in the area.

A biodegradable oil dispersant is being poured over the oil sludge finally today, some 72 hours after the accident.

Angry fishermen are protesting their loss of revenue while the stench of the leak has headed inland.
The collision was between VLGC BW Maple and Indian product tanker Dawn Kanchipuram. The accident happened near Kamaraiar Port in Chennai with the fully loaded product tanker approaching the port and the gas carrier departing in ballast.

BW Maple’s bow struck just in front of the superstructure on the port side hull of the Dawn Kanchipuram with tons of diesel spilling from the latter.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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