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Mubarak village: ‘Steps being taken to remove oil spill from coastal belt’

By M. Waqar Bhatti
October 28, 2018

Ag APP

KARACHI: Sindh Minister for Environment and Coastal Development Taimoor Talpur on Saturday visited Mubarak Village and its surrounding areas to inspect impact of oil spill over the coastal belt.

Talking to the media, the provincial minister said measures were being taken with the assistance of federal agencies and international environmental protection organisations for cleansing of oil spill from the coastal belt.

He said the oil spill has endangered marine life as well as coastal communities and added that investigations are under way to assign responsibility for the oil spill. Those responsible for the crime would be awarded exemplary punishment, he said and added investigations are being conducted by federal and provincial agencies including Pakistan Navy and Maritime Security Agency and those responsible for this environmental hazard would soon be identified.

The officers of the Sindh Environment Protection Agency and representatives of the local fishermen were also present on the occasion.The oil spill that washed ashore at the Mubarak village and several others points on the Sindh-Balochistan coast is actually ‘bunker oil’ used by ships for running their engines and in all likelihood was dumped by a large vessel before heading towards Gadani Ship Breaking yard for dismantling, investigators told The News on Saturday. An investigator of a federal investigation agency said they have identified the vessel and its dismantling was halted till the completion of investigation.

Bunker oil is used by ships to power their engines and it is the most viscous kind of oil containing heavy hydrocarbons, experts said, adding it is most toxic and dangerous oil if spilled in the sea as it floats over large distances and periods due to its inability to evaporate. “The bunker oil is usually thick, black oil which cannot be used for any other purpose, Captain Kahlil-ur-Rehman, skipper of an oil transport vessel, based in Malaysia said.

According to the investigators, after dumping the oil a few hundred kilometers away from the Sindh-Balochistan coast, the ship is now anchored at the Gadani ship breaking yard where it was to be dismantled at “Shed no 100”. The vessel has now been cordoned off for investigation, the investigators said. The investigating agencies, however, refused to provide name of the vessel, country or its registration and the owner company before finalizing their investigation but added that remedial measures were started to clean up the coast and the sea while adding the cost of clean-up operation would be recovered from the perpetrators of the crime. Over a dozen investigating agencies, both public and private including National Institute of Oceanography have collected the oil samples from the sea and coast for analysis but are not releasing the results pending completion of the investigation.

According to the investigators, the dismantling contractors had instructed the vessels to come with minimal oil to the ship breaking facility as two serious accidents had claimed lives of seven labourers and injured dozens following fire during dismantling of vessels. Due to the standing instructions, the vessel dumped their bunker and tanker oil in the open sea, he added.

Meanwhile, the DG Pakistan Maritime Security Agency (PMSA) Commodore Abdul Majid said their patrolling boats did not see any vessel dumping oil in the open sea, but they are investigating the source of the oil spill. He said they have asked the shipping and port authorities to provide a list of ships that passed this area while samples of the oil are being sent for analysis. The DG PMSA told newsmen that two PMSA and one Pakistan Navy’s ship is busy in cleaning the spill from the sea, whaile Pakistan Navy’s officials are conducting clean-up operation at the Mubarak village.