Mumbai oil spill under control

Thursday, August 12, 2010, 19:59 by Business Editor

Indian authorities have been successful in containing the fuel leak of a container ship that collided with a cargo vessel on Saturday.

The main port of Mumbai will remain closed till Wednesday, in order to avert any navigational complications, said sources at the defense ministry.

The MSC Chitra, registered in Panama, collided with the MV-Khalijia-II near Jawahar Lal Nehru port. The MSC Chitra was moving out of the port and the Khalija-III was navigating towards the Mumbai Port Trust for repairs when the collision happened. The scene of the crash was around five kilometers from Mumbai port. The collision caused the MSC Chitra to heavily, thereby spilling its oil and lubricants into the water. The leak was plugged by late Monday and the Minister for Environment, Jairam Ramesh, confirmed this news in Lok Sabha on Tuesday.

The information released by the defense ministry says that the oil slick that was caused by the accident is spread over an area of three miles around the ship. The cause of the accident has been accepted to be a failure in radio communications between the two ships and no information has been given regarding the cargo they were carrying. Officials suspect that human error on one or both ships could have caused the collision. Since Saturday, Indian coast guard ships and helicopters have been working relentlessly to get the situation under control.

It is estimated that 300 containers that the ship was carrying have fallen into the sea, and that approximately 2,000 liters of oil have been spilt into the Arabian Sea over the three days that passed since the collision. Although the ship is still listing heavily, officials confirm that there is no danger of it sinking, since it has run aground on a rock, and the water levels are not deep enough in that area for submersion. No details were given on the damage incurred by the Khalijia-II. A detailed investigation has been instituted by the Director General of Shipping to ascertain the details of the collision.

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