The government has ordered a high- level probe, headed by director general shipping, to nail the guilty behind the oil spill that took place off the Chennai coast following collision between two ships and the report is likely in a month, Union minister Nitin Gadkari said on Friday.
A big damage control exercise was carried out in the wake of the collision, containing a major problem, and the ship was emptied safely on Friday morning, the shipping, road transport and highways minister said.
Based on the outcome of the probe, action would be initiated against the guilty, he said.
The oil spill has been a cause of concern ever since MT BW Maple, leaving after emptying liquefied petroleum gas on January 28 collided with MT Dawn Kanchipuram, loaded with petroleum oil lubricant (POL) off Ennore port, which is among top 12 major ports in the country.
Minister of state for shipping Pon Radhakrishnan said the vessel had more than 32,000 tonnes of oil and has been emptied.
“The oil spill has been cleaned. From the tank, it did not leak. Oil leaked from the engine. There is no leakage from the ship,” Radhakrishnan said.
Shipping secretary Rajive Kumar said that like with the provisions of enquiry by DGCA, in case of accidents involving air planes, there is a similar provision in the Merchant Shipping Act for enquiry and fixing responsibility.
He said final findings were expected in a month as all possible evidences are being collected to fix the liability.
Also, he said, the shipping ministry has sought an audit report on whether the ports handling oil are well equipped as “50% subsidy is given to ports handling oil to get equipment and last year we got OISD (Oil Industry Safety Board) which looks after the safety of oil installations in the country.
“Whatever deficiencies they had pointed out, instructions were given to remove them and I had been told by Ennore port they had the equipment which is prescribed under the crisis management plan”.
He said pollution control measures have already been initiated as per the crisis management plan and the government has deputed a high level committee to oversee operations comprising joint secretary shipping, additional secretary shipping as well as additional secretary from petroleum.
“We were coordinating the efforts with Coast Guard as well as with the state governments... There was absolute coordination. People were working which were provided by both the ports as well as from the maritime institutions. The NGOs and other volunteers, they have done outstandingly good work,” Kumar said.
He explained that one tonne of oil leaked gets ten times bigger after being mixed with water and debris and by Friday morning, 116 tonnes of sludge had been collected.