Oil in sea could persist in environment for months if not removed: ITOPF study

The bunker oil spilt near Ennore Port could persist in the environment for months or years if not removed, says a study. 

Published: 17th February 2017 04:10 AM  |   Last Updated: 17th February 2017 04:10 AM   |  A+A-

Effects of the oil spill on Chennai's shores. (Photo | EPS)

Express News Service

CHENNAI: The bunker oil spilt by Indian flagship vessel M T Dawn Kancheepuram after it collided with the Isle of Man's vessel B W Maple could persist in the environment for months or years if not removed.

According to ‘A Review of Problems Faced by Heavy Oil Spills,’ a study done by The International Tanker Owners Pollution Federation (ITOPF), the heavy oil or bunker oil has a high specific gravity, they tend to float lower in the water than lighter crude oils and are therefore not visible in rough seas. 

“Because oil that is not readily visible cannot be tracked, it cannot be contained or collected,” said the study.

When Express contacted Indian Oil Corporation’s deputy general manager Research and Development S K Puri, he rejected the theory that the viscosity of oil was more. On the contrary, he said that the viscosity of the oil was less as such most of the oil was floating and visible and has accumulated on the shore.

However, he said some of the spills may have travelled but its impact is not that severe. ITOPF has stated in its study on bunker oil that short-term threat from heavy oils comes from their ability to smother organisms whereas, over the long-term, some chronic health effects like tumours may result in some organisms.

Studies have revealed that many industries depending on clean water for cooling purposes in nuclear, other power plants and desalination plants can be negatively affected if they risk getting oil into their water intakes. The result may be contamination of piping systems which in turn may require that the plant is shut down while cleaning is carried out. 

Interestingly, when this was pointed out to Puri, he said that the spill may not have a serious impact on Nemelli as the water is generally treated before being delivered into the pipeline. 

To a query on the maintenance of Nemelli desalination plant for three days could be attributed oil spill, a Chennai Metro water spokesman rejected it. 


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