Odisha begins process to extract oil from grounded ship in Chilika

The Malaysian ship has been lying grounded in the lake since August 7

By Ashis Senapati
Published: Thursday 29 August 2019

The Odisha government on August 28 begun the process of pumping out the oil stored in the Malaysian cargo ship Jin Hwa 32, that ran aground in Odisha's Chilika lake at Khirisahi on August 7. 

Seven persons from Balasore reached the spot with their equipment and examined the site where the ship is lying.

The work will be executed observing all the safety and statutory requirements. After the pumping is over, arrangements will be made to shift the vessel from the location so that it does not affect the ecosystem of Chilika in any way, said Odisha’s Minister for Commerce and Transport, Padmanabha Behera.

The container of the cargo ship has toppled over on August 28, raising threats of an oil spill into the sea, secretary of Wildlife Society of Odisha, Biswajit Mohanty, noted in a letter to the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) and Chief Wildlife Warden, Odisha.  

“According to reports, the ship has a stock of 30,000 litres of diesel, 1,000 litres of lubricant and 200 litres of hydraulic oil. We apprehend that in the unfortunate event of an oil spill or leakage, the oil will be carried by sea currents inside the eco-sensitive Chilika lake through its sea mouth,” wrote Mohanty.

Mohanty also urged the PCCF to issue necessary directions under the Wild Life (Protection) Act,1972, to all concerned agencies to address the disaster as the wrecked ship was a threat to Schedule I species  found in the lake, namely the Irrawady dolphin and Olive Ridley sea turtle.

He expressed surprise that till date, neither the Coast Guard, the National Disaster Management Authority, the Odisha State Disaster Management Authority, the State Pollution Control Board nor the district administration had taken any preventive action to reclaim the oil stores despite having the powers to do so.

There was an urgent need to take appropriate remedial measures to recover the oil and lubricants. Orders should be issued to the Divisional Forest Officer, Chilika Wildlife Division, to closely monitor the situation on a day-to-day basis so that any spillage may be detected immediately, stated Mohanty in his letter.

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