CHENNAI: While the Tamil Nadu government and the fisherfolk of seafront villages maintain that the fish have not been contaminated by the Ennore oil spill of January, a report by the ministry of earth sciences suggests otherwise.
A study of 21 edible fish caught off the Chennai coast found that all of them were contaminated with total petroleum hydrocarbons (TPH), which are toxic, mutagenic and carcinogenic.
Their study lists 40 edible fish found in the area while findings on the other 19 remain unpublished.
Neithli, a local favourite and the smallest fish in the sample, was found to be the most contaminated.
According to the Agency for Toxic substances and Diseases Registry (ATSDR), an agency that functions under the US Department of Health, long-time exposure to THD can cause permanent damage to the central nervous system.
However, scientists from the Integrated Coastal and Marine Area Management (ICMAM), who conducted the study for the ministry of earth sciences, were not able to ascertain whether the contamination was solely because of the oil spill.
Arun Krishnamurthy, founder of the Environmental Foundation of India (RFI), said the oil spill was just another “nail in the coffin” for local fishermen. The Ennore coast is being polluted on a daily basis with dry ash from thermal power plants and urban sewage being carried out to sea by the Kosasthalaiyar river.
“The fish will survive and can adapt to the extreme conditions,” Krishnamurthy said. “We aren’t putting the fish in coffins by polluting the ocean. We are killing the livelihood of our fellow beings.”
Now that’s a thought for World Environment Day.