Almost 18 days after the oil spill off the Mumbai coast reached Alibaug, the clean-up operation on its 5-km beach stretch began on Friday.
Using oil-zapper technology developed by Delhi-based The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), approximately 100 volunteers were roped in to start the bioremediation technique.
An oil zapper is a collection of oil-eating bacteria, which degrades pollutants and converts it into carbon dioxide without leaving any harmful residue.
While Alibaug is the first site for the bioremediation process, the technique will be used in Navy Nagar next. A proposal to clean up Uran has been sent to the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board.
Volunteers collected and swept oil-stained sand, sludge, plastic and tar balls from the shore. It was all put into a 3 ft bioremediation pit lined with thick polythene and located 200 km away from the contaminated site. The bioremediation process on the Alibaug beach will continue for three days.
“The oil zapper was sprinkled into the pit. Within two months, the microbes will digest the oil and the water and soil will emerge clean. It’s an environment-friendly technique,” said an official from TERI.
To protect it from rain, the pit will be covered and there will be a weekly check of soil samples. TERI officials said in two months, the soil will be devoid of any toxic substance.
Following the spill, oil was found accumulated in mangroves at Navi Mumbai Uran and Alibaug. Tar balls were also found on-shore in Sasvane, Kihim, Revas and Mandava along the Raigad coastline, Uran, Vashi and in pockets of Colaba.
Though the initial plan was to also clean up the mangroves, the state pollution control board has asked them to restrict the clean-up only to the soil and rocky shores. Hence, TERI will not be involved in cleaning up mangroves near Vashi and Sewri.