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Mumbai: Eco disaster looms following oil spill

Last Updated: Monday, August 8, 2011 - 00:39

Zeenews Bureau

Mumbai: The city of Mumbai is facing an environmental disaster as reports suggest the sinking of cargo vessel MV Rak 25 nautical miles off the coast has led to an oil spill.

The vessel, which was on its way from Lubuk Tutung in Indonesia to Dahej in Gujarat, went down on Thursday. It had a cargo of 60,054 metric tonnes of coal, 290 tonnes of fuel oil and 50 tonnes of diesel oil at the time it sank.

Coast Guard vessel Samudra Prahari, which has been patrolling the site where the vessel sank, has used oil dispersant to deal with the spill.

A Defence press release said, "Since last night, oil has been observed leaking from the sunken vessel Rak Carrier at an approximate rate of 1.5 to 2 tonnes per hour. The oil has spread about 7 nautical miles around the vessel."

The spill was confirmed in an aerial survey carried out by the Coast Guard. The recce found that the oil spill has spread up to seven nautical miles from where MV Rak went down.

According to officials, 1.5 to 2 tonnes of oil have been leaking from the 1984-built vessel every hour beginning Saturday.

The state authorities have been advised to direct fishermen not to fish in affected area.

The fishermen`s association in Mumbai, rattled by the recent incidents of grounding of ships - MV Wisdom, MT Pavit and MV Rak carrier, has already threatened to move the Bombay High Court over safety and security of coastal area and also for demanding compensation.

Thirty crew members of the Panama-flagged bulk carrier were rescued when the ship sank on Thursday.

Amid ecological concerns over the oil spill, the Maharashtra government denied reports that the oil leak from the vessel had reached the city beach and maintained there is no threat to Mumbai coast.

The government claimed that the spill on the Juhu coast is a localised phenomenon and not due to the RAK spill.

"On physical inspection, it is revealed that there is furnace oil off the Juhu coast at certain locations...the oil content is about 1 to 2 mgs per litre which is negligible", a press note released by the government said.

The state government further said it has issued an advisory to fishermen not to venture in that area where RAK has sunk till August 15.

"There is no imminent threat to Mumbai coast", the release said.

"Two Coast Guarrd ships are on location to handle the spread of the spill and the Coast Guard has already used 600 litres of aerial dispersants to contain the spread", the release added.

First Published: Sunday, August 7, 2011 - 14:24
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