On one hand, as state pollution control officials confirmed that the oil slick was caused by sunken cargo ship MV RAK Carrier on Monday, on the other, district authorities from the city and coastal regions engaged agencies to clean up the oil spill from the city’s coast and issued an advisory for citizens as the spill continued to spread for the second day in a row.
“The oil has spread over a 3.5 km stretch between Khar Danda and Juhu Moragaon. This will be cleaned up within 3-4 days, ” said Mumbai suburban district collector, Nirmal Deshmukh. “The oil reaches the shore with every high tide. To clean this up, we have appointed an agency, which has deployed 60 labourers to do the job.”
Dr Shankar Gajbhiye, regional director of National Institute of Oceanography, Mumbai, warned the spillage could be a health hazard. “People should avoid entering the sea as it could be harmful,” he said.
The Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) confirmed that MV Rak was the source of the oil slick at Juhu beach. “The layer of oil on the beach was furnace oil. MV Rak was also carrying furnace oil,” said Milind Mhaiskar, member secretary, MPCB. The rate of spill had reduced, from 1.5-2 tonnes per hour on Sunday to 1 tonne per hour on Monday, officials said.
Senior MPCB officials said the quantity of oil at Juhu beach varies between 10 and 25 parts per million (ppm). YB Sontake, regional officer, MPCB said, “The oil content is minimal. About 95% of the Juhu beach is not contaminated.”
In Raigad, a thin layer of oil and several tar balls were found at the Awas and Thal beaches in Alibaug. “The oil layer and tar balls are spread over a 10-12 km stretch. Around 45 labourers have been hired to clean up the oil deposits,” said Sagar Pathak, disaster management officer, Raigad district collector’s office.
“We request visitors not to enter the sea, not to walk barefoot on the beach or touch the sand,” he said.