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Wildlife body concerned over delay in oil removal


Bhubaneswar : A wildlife body expressed concern Wednesday over the delay in the removal of stored fuel oil by authorities from a vessel that sank off Orissa’s Paradip port about 14 days ago.

“We are concerned over the inaction of the authorities in evacuating the stored fuel oil,” Biswajit Mohanty, secretary of the wildlife society of Orissa, told IANS.

The Paradip Port Trust has done nothing for the past two weeks except keep a watch over the vessel and escort visiting officials to the ship wreck, Mohanty said.

“Gahirmatha Marine Sanctuary is perilously close and an oil slick can easily spread to this area affecting the world famous mass breeding grounds of the Olive Ridley sea turtles,” he said.

A letter was written Wednesday to the state pollution control board to issue directions to the authorities of the port trust to undertake immediate measures, Mohanty added.

“We have also urged them to issue orders for withdrawal of consent to operate, granted by the board to the port in the event the port does not act within a day or two,” Mohanty, who is also a member of the National Board for Wildlife, said.

“Besides I had sent a fax message on Sep 11 to the Chief Wildlife Warden of Orissa Government (CWLW) warning him about the impending oil spill and the likely adverse impacts on the rich marine life of the sanctuary.”

“Unfortunately, no action was taken to carry out any such recovery measure and the oil has started leaking now, threatening the local fish and marine fauna,” Mohanty said.

“The migratory Olive Ridley sea turtles are expected to arrive by the end of this month and it would be a sure disaster if these materials pollute the area before their arrival,” he added.

The vessel under a Mongolian flag ran aground Sep 9 with 924 tonnes of furnace oil and about 25,000 tonnes of iron ore fines. Twenty seven crew members were on board. All but a Ukrainian engineer, whose body was found 10 days later, were rescued.

A section of the media Monday said the ship had spilled oil and a thick film of black crude oil was visible on the sea near Paradip. Dead fish lay scattered on the shore.

The port trust has however said the spill was from the service tank of the engine room and was negligible. It does not pose any threat to ecology.

“Out of the 924 metric tonnes of oil, 900 metric tonnes are inside a double bottom tank fully secured and are very safe and cannot be released easily,” the port trust, in a statement, said Tuesday.