Saturday September 18, 2021

Naval chief orders executing plan to mitigate oil pollution risk from ship aground on Clifton beach

July 25, 2021

The Pakistan Navy has executed a National Contingency Plan while assessing the evolving situation after the grounding of MV HENG TONG 77 off the Karachi harbour earlier on 19 July, said a press release issued on Saturday.

The chief of the naval staff is the chairman of the Pakistan Maritime Disaster Management Board (PMDMB). He has ordered executing the National Contingency Plan (Pollution) and directed the Tier -1 response elements to be proactively put in place in order to minimise any possible risk of pollution from the merchant vessel that has run aground on the Seaview beach.

The naval chief has also ordered that Tier-2 response elements (belonging to all other maritime stake holders in Pakistan) be brought to four-hour notice. The Maritime Disaster Response Committee (MDRC) under the chairmanship of the deputy chief of naval staff (operations) has also been activated to review ongoing actions and future response options.

A meeting of the Maritime Disaster Response Committee (MDRC) was held at HQs PMSA on Saturday to review the situation of MV HENG TONG 77. The meeting was attended by the KPT chairman, the DG PMSA, the DG Ports and Shipping and representatives of the provincial government and other maritime stakeholders. An elaborate plan was formulated to mitigate effects of any untoward incident which may pose grave environmental hazards due to the possibility of oil leakage from the ship’s fuel tank.

The commander coast has been nominated as on scene commander (OSC) to supervise the on-site preparations to contain the risk of pollution in coordination with the PMSA and the KPT. An anti-pollution barrier has been deployed by the KPT around the grounded ship and other response elements are being mustered in the vicinity. MV HENG TONG 77 is carrying 118 tons of bunker fuel, which is a source of immediate concern.

To deal with such contingencies, the Pakistan government has already in place a standing national organisation called 'Pakistan Maritime Disaster Management Board (PMDMB)' under the chairmanship of the chief of the naval staff. The PMDMB is the competent national authority mandated to execute the National Maritime Disaster Contingency Plan (NMDCP) and activate the Maritime Disaster Response Committee (MDRC) to deal with its various aspects such as search & rescue (SAR), pollution and salvage.

Although, presently, there are no immediate signs of possible oil leakage, proactive measures have been taken to avoid risk of any negative development, especially due to rough sea state because of the monsoon. The situation is critically being monitored by the Pakistan Navy and all stakeholders in order to mitigate any environmental hazard due to the risk of marine pollution.