Bad weather prevents oil-plugging on sunken ship | india | Hindustan Times
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Bad weather prevents oil-plugging on sunken ship

india Updated: Sep 30, 2009 14:43 IST

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For the third day running on Wednesday bad weather prevented work to plug the holes to stop oil leakage from a ship that sank off Orissa's Paradip port in eastern India, officials said.

“Work was disrupted due to bad weather after only one day's work September 27,” deputy conservator of Paradip Port G K Biswal told IANS. "Experts are on standby and work will resume only after the weather improves," he said.

The port September 26 awarded the contract to the Visakhapatnam-based J Enterprises and Dives to plug air vents, sounding pipes and other holes to ensure that there is no oil leakage from the ship. The firm commenced work on Septembertember 27.

Work was stopped September 28 after sea condition became rough due to cyclonic circulation and later due to formation of low pressure area over the west central bay and adjoining north-west bay off the north Andhra Pradesh and south Orissa coast.

The vessel under a Mongolian flag ran aground September 9 in the harbour area off the port in Jagatsinghpur district, some 100 km from state capital Bhubaneswar, 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.

Port authorities said out of the 924 metric tonnes of oil, 900 metric tonnes was inside a double bottom tank fully secured and was safe and could not be released easily. Port authorities, however, said small quantities of oil had started oozing out from September 21, probably from the settling and service tank of the engine room and was reaching the shore.

The spot where the ship went down is close to the Gahirmatha marine sanctuary, one of the world's few remaining nesting sites for the endangered Olive Ridley sea turtles that comes to the area every year around this time to breed.

If the oil spill spreads, it could pollute the marine environment and pose a serious threat to the turtles, a wildlife body has warned.

The port authorities last week issued two tender notifications, one calling for spot quotations to plug the air vents, sounding pipes and other holes to prevent oil spill. Another tender was floated for taking out the oil from the sunken vessel.

"The last date for submission of bids for taking out oil is Oct 5. One port trust vessel with oil containment booms and skimmers has been deployed near the sunken vessel to tackle the spilled oil along with a coast guard vessel," a port official said.