Sunken ship leaks oil
Mumbai: Oil spills in the Arabian Sea, off the Mumbai coast, seem to have become an annual affair. MV Rak, the Panama-flagged cargo ship that sank off Mumbai on Thursday, started leaking oil late on Saturday night.
Last August, the collision of merchant ships MSC Chitra and MV Khalija at the mouth of Mumbai harbour had led to a major oil spill. "Since last night, oil has been leaking from the sunken vessel at a rate of 1.5 to 2 tonnes an hour. The oil has spread about seven nautical miles around the vessel," a defence press release said.
Coast guard ship Samudra Prahari has started an oil containment operation, named Paryavaran Suraksha -- 2/2011, by using oil dispersant to neutralise the spill. "More than 700kg of oil spill dispersant was sprayed over seven nautical miles from where the ship sank and the spill was noticed," a coast guard officer said.
But alarm bells have started ringing, with environmentalists advising people to stay off fish for a while and authorities telling fishermen not to venture near the spillage area. "The oil does not get dissolved in seawater; rather it forms a thick layer over it," Rituraj Joshi of Nisarg Trust said. "This affects marine biology and disrupts the marine food chain. Big fishes eat small ones coated with oil and fishermen catch big fishes for the market. So, there is a chance of our bodies being contaminated."