Can't connect right now! retry

add The News to homescreen

tap to bring up your browser menu and select 'Add to homescreen' to pin the The News web app

Got it!

add The News to homescreen

tap to bring up your browser menu and select 'Add to homescreen' to pin the The News web app

Got it!
October 27, 2018

Federal, provincial govts vow probe into oil spill at Karachi coast


October 27, 2018

Environmentalists on Friday expressed serious concerns over the death of marine animals due to an oil spill along the coast of Karachi from Mubarak Village to Manora island as the federal and provincial authorities in Sindh and Balochistan launched separate investigations to identify the cause and those responsible for the spill.

The environmental protection agencies of Sindh and Balochistan, Sindh Chief Minister and Federal Ministry of Maritime Affairs also vowed to probe the oil spill that has put marine life in a large swath of the sea in danger, while a petroleum company accused of being responsible denied charges, saying it had nothing to do with the environmental disaster.

According to the World Wide Fund for Nature-Pakistan (WWF-Pakistan), a major oil spill was seen near Churna Island on Wednesday but its extent and severity did not become apparent immediately. However, by Thursday morning, the oil slick beached on Mubarak Village and quickly spread up to Sandspit Beach by the afternoon.

The oil seems to have weathered and has converted to semi-solid tar, indicating that it might have been released a few days back, the WWF-Pakistan stated. The source of the spill has, so far, not been ascertained.

The spill has now spread over a sizable area and some dead marine animals smeared with oil have washed ashore. According to the WWF-Pakistan team which visited Mubarak Village and Sandspit, animals covered with oil were found dead on the rocky shore.

A few dead crabs were also collected and a number of fishes i.e., eels and croakers, were also found dead on the Hawkes Bay beach. One juvenile green turtle was also found dead on Sandspit. The impact of the spill on other animals, birds and ecosystem has not been determined as yet but it is likely to have serious implications.

According to Muhammad Moazzam Khan, the WWF-Pakistan’s Technical Adviser (Marine Fisheries), the oil spill can have a severe impact on the marine ecosystem as it has smeared the entire rocky beaches covering the intertidal rocky platforms and rock pools. The deaths of plants and animals inhabiting the marine ecosystem are also likely.

Moazzam said it can also have serious consequences for marine birds if they come in contact with the oil as it mostly covers their feathers resulting in death. He said the oil spill has spread to Churna Island, which is one of the most sensitive habitats along Pakistan’s coast.

The WWF-Pakistan expert maintained that this island is among a few areas where corals are found and is known to have diverse marine life. It is possibly the most important diving and snorkelling site along the coast of Pakistan. According to him, cleaning the affected beaches is extremely difficult as the oil’s physical removal or use of dispersants is not easy.

Dr Babar Khan, the regional director for Sindh and Balochistan, WWF-Pakistan, pointed out that teams from WWF-Pakistan are visiting the affected areas and trying to assess the damage that may have been caused to the coastal habitat and marine biota. He said samples of oil from Mubarak Village and Sandspit have already been collected which will be used for oil finger printing, which is done through Gas Chromatograph (GC–MS) and Spectroscopic (fluorescence, FT-IR) and ultra-high resolution mass spectrometry methods (FT-ICRMS), which will help trace the source of oil pollution.

Babar also stressed on the need for joint efforts to investigate and determine the source of the oil spill, assess its damage and more importantly, to initiate a clean-up operation if it becomes feasible.

Oil spills disrupt marine life and have impacts years after a spill occurs, he said. Initially after the spill, oil covers everything from beach sand to rocks at the bottom of the sea, killing most of the marine life. Sea birds, which cannot relocate, get oil on their feathers and cannot maintain their body temperature. Dolphins and whales also cannot breathe in an oil spill as the oil clogs their blowholes. An oil spill has the worst toll on fish, particularly if the oil comes in contact with fish eggs.

Authorities react

Meanwhile, the regional office of Balochistan’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has advised Byco Petroleum Pakistan Limited (BPPL) to stop its operations after a stretch of the Sindh-Balochistan coastal belt became heavily polluted due to an oil spill reportedly from an underground pipeline.

Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah also took notice of the oil spill on Karachi’s coast and directed the Sindh Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) and Sindh Fisheries Department to investigate the incident and report findings to him immediately.

In a statement, Byco, the petroleum company, said certain reports on social media platforms mention that an oil spill has taken place near Mubarak Village and Churna Island near Hubco and Byco’s refinery in Balochistan.

Byco would like to clarify that no leak or loss of containment has taken place from any of its installations, it claimed.

Topstory minus plus

Opinion minus plus

Newspost minus plus

Editorial minus plus

National minus plus

World minus plus

Sports minus plus

Business minus plus

Karachi minus plus

Lahore minus plus

Islamabad minus plus

Peshawar minus plus