Chennai Port Trust is now taking steps to augment its capacity to contain oil spills by planning to have an oil spill response vessel. This comes after Chennai’s coast witnessed an oil spill when two cargo vessels collided at Kamarajar Port last month.
A Chennai Port official told Express that tenders had been floated for an oil spill response vessel and other equipment worth `14 crore. The new vessel will augment the existing oil spill response vessel ‘Prestige’. Interestingly, Chennai Port had oil recovery vessel ‘Annam’, a 23-year-old special purpose vessel used for recovery of spilt oil from the sea. It has wing tanks to store about 50-kilo litres of oil. It has one propulsion engine and one generator engine by which power supply is provided for the operation of skimmer and spill spray system.
Currently, this vessel is beyond maintenance and repair and officials believe it can’t be put into use. “This is one of the reasons we are going in for a new vessel,” said sources.
The port official said that ‘Prestige’ could contain 100 tonnes of oil spill and the additional vessel would help boost the measures to contain the spill. He said that ‘Prestige’ was not used during the oil spill as it was too close to the shore. “They had used our booms to contain oil in Ernavoor as well as Kamarajar Port,” the official said.
The official said that Chennai Port is planning to procure flex barges which could contain 40 tonnes of oil besides shoreline clean-up equipment. Meanwhile, an Indian Coast Guard source said that their vessel Varad, which played a crucial role during the oil spill, will retire in March. It will be replaced by a new offshore patrol vessel.
The Coast Guard also said that the Director General of Shipping had made it mandatory for all ports to have space for storing pollution response equipment. “This could result in immediate response to contain the oil spill,” a Coast Guard source said.
Source: The New Indian Express