Villagers wake up to dead sea after oil spill

Oct 08, 2013, 01:07 IST | Richa Pinto and Ranjeet Jadhav

Fishermen of Pirwadi village, 50 km from Mumbai, noticed crabs and other dead fish on the beach on Monday morning after a rupture in the main pipeline caused by an oil spill spreading over 2.5 km of the city's coastline

Around 20 families belonging to Pirwadi village in Uran have been robbed of their livelihood after a crude oil spill was reported off the Mumbai coast at the Uran-Pirwadi beach in the wee hours of Monday. The spill, which occurred owing to a rupture in Oil and Natural Gas Corp’s (ONGC) main trunk pipeline, spread over 2.5 km of the coastline, leaving several fish dead and damage to the sea. 

Oh fish! Following the oil spill, police and ONGC officials rushed to the spot to start the clean-up operations. Authorities made sure that no one was allowed into the waters so as to contain the situation. Pics/Sameer Markande

Villagers, mostly fishermen, said that the oil spill would greatly affect their fishing activities. A few of them said that when they went out on Monday morning for work, they noticed several dead crabs and other fish on the beach.

Hundreds of various marine life forms were found dead on the beach in the wake of the oil spill

Naved Qureshi (22) said that the oil spill will leave him jobless for a fortnight. Explaining his plight, he said, “I will have to look for other odd jobs because our livelihood -- fishing -- will be suspended and we are completely dependent on it.”

Standing guard: CISF jawans were also called to the spot to ensure that fishermen did not enter the waters

Chintamani Mhatre, another fisherman, echoed the same sentiments. “I have a family of five that depends on me. I came here in the morning to catch fish but haven’t been able to get hold of anything. Around three years ago, when such an oil spill had occurred, the government had promised us compensation but we haven’t seen a single penny yet,” he complained.

Future tense: Fishermen turned back from the beach after authorities closed the area off to them. They have to rely on odd jobs now, till they can head back to the sea

The plant leaked oil around 2 am on Monday, following which ONGC officials plugged the leakage. SK Sahu, GM, productions from ONGC said that around 1.5 tonnes of oil had spilled from the plant.

“There were three leakages from within the pipe. We immediately stopped it in order to avoid it from spreading further. Besides, we are using oil dispersant in order to neutralise the oil.”

The leakage was basically from a pipeline that carries crude oil from Mumbai High fields.

Following the spill, a fire brigade and the Uran police rushed to the spot to contain the situation. They immediately stopped people from entering the waters to avoid any mishap from taking place. Sub-Inspector Chandrakant Dhumal from Uran police station said that the oil spill was detected when locals started getting an odour A team of 10 members from ONGC also reached the beach to start the clean-up operations.

Speaking to MiD DAY, one of the members said that the clean-up operations would only begin after 7.30 pm with the high tide. “The oil, which is expected to get accumulated on the surface of the water, will be collected using a machine,” he said, adding that the procedure would take two to three days.

1.5 tonnes
The approximate amount of oil that leaked from the pipeline

2.5 km
The area across which oil has spread in the water

2.12 lakh
The number of barrels that the Mumbai Uran Trunk (MUT) pumps per day to Uran

I was verbally informed about the spill. We have sent our team there and we will be collecting the samples of water for testing to understand the gravity of the situation. However, when oil is spread in the sea it is very difficult to measure the actual amount. We are only involved in finding out how much pollution has been caused and this will be understood once the reports are completed. It would take at least a fortnight to get the results.
-- Dr YB Sontakke, Maharashtra Pollution Control Board

When such oil spills occur there is always an impact on the marine life but as I am not aware of the exact details of the incident, I would not be able to comment. Tomorrow I will speak to my team and if required, they would be sent to the site for inspection after which a report would be prepared.
-- Dr Shankar Gajbhiye, scientist, National Institute of Oceanography

If the locals have raised the issue of past compensations from earlier oil spills I will raise the issue in the next cabinet meeting and see to it that the compensation is handed out to them at the earliest.
-- Sunil Tatkare, guardian minister, Raigad

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