Mumbai: on the ground in Palghar, the wreck of a barge raises fears of an oil spill
A “burst” of oil reported by the Coast Guard at Valrai Rocks off Palghar where the ONGC Gal Constructor accommodation barge ran aground during Cyclone Tauktae raised fears that a large amount of diesel stored on it had started to flee into the sea.
The Maharashtra Maritime Board (MMB) and the Director General (Maritime Transport) issued opinions to AFCONS, the company that operated the vessel for ONGC.
When Cyclone Tauktae struck earlier this month, the four-deck Gal Constructor anchored offshore near Alibaug began to drift several nautical miles at Palghar and ran aground there. All 137 crew members were rescued by the Coast Guard.
While the DG (Maritime Transport) published an opinion expressing its concern for marine pollution, MMB warned against withdrawing the vessel as it is in the middle of the navigation channel.
“Our first priority is to get the oil out of the ship and the salvers are doing it. Then we will think about removing the ship. The ship is sunk deep into the rocks, ” said Captain Praveen Khara of MMB.
Amit Saini, CEO of MMB, added: “Barge owners are complying with the advice and it is expected to be withdrawn soon.”
Coast Guard spokesman Aravindan Mitra said the barge was carrying 78 kilograms of liters of a high-speed “quick flash” diesel. Although the barge did not have its own engine, fuel was needed for the power generator and the like on the ship, which was accommodation for the workers who were all employed in off-shore jobs at Mumbai High. The barge does not carry crude oil.
While the spokesperson said no oil breaches from the barge had been reported, he added that a Coast Guard helicopter reported a “silvery sliver of oil 50 meters wide. ” of the site.
“AFCONS fitted M / s Seacare, which placed a 400m boom around the barge. In addition, two fuel barges are hired to remove the oil. M / s Shree Krishna is undertaking hull repairs at Gal Constructor and M / s Smith & Coy has been hired to remove the oil from the vessel, ”he said.
Mitra also said that no spills had been reported ashore to date. “A continuous liaison is maintained with the agent of Gal Constructor. The crew on board had placed absorbent pads along the boom. The same will be recovered with bilge oil using fishing boats, which are arranged by the fishermen’s association. The Coast Guard is closely monitoring the situation and the district administration has been alerted for an immediate cleanup, if oil reaches the coast, ”he added.
An AFCONS official said: “Although it is the primary responsibility of the shipowner to save the stranded vessel, Afcons has voluntarily volunteered to organize and install an oil containment boom around Gal. Constructor two days ago to ensure that no damage comes to the environment and the marine ecology is not impacted. “
“Due to the preventive action, the oil spill is now contained in the floating ramp and is being recovered. We understand that the rescue operations have already started as a team from Smit International boarded the ship and started to prepare.
Palghar district collector Manik Gursal said the district administration was monitoring the situation.