Thiruvananthapuram: On Wednesday an abandoned tugboat at Seaward Wharf of Vizhinjam Port - MV Brahmekshara - sank spilling oil and fuel posing threat to marine life and environment.
The port authorities were on the toes due to lack of pollution-fighting equipment and disaster management measures to contain the spill.
The tugboat sank around 4.30 am. Initially, none of the authorities including the coastguards or fire department was ready to contain the spill claiming that the incident happened in Port's jurisdiction.
The pollution control board, who tried to coordinate the damage control operations, were clueless on the steps to be taken as the Port had no equipment or facilities to skim spilt oil and contain the pollution.
Skimmer, the device used to remove oil floating on liquid surface and barriers for avoiding spreading of oil, are the two necessary equipment required for the purpose.After hours of discussions, finally, the coastguard and fire department stepped in and used oil spill disbursement to control damages. A top official of the port department said that Vizhinjam Port is not a major port and commercial activities are very less. The tugboat has around 3,000 litres of diesel and 2,500 litres of used oil.
"We have placed a proposal to buy pollution-fighting equipment. We cannot buy heavy duty and expensive equipment as there is no use for them most of the time. The incident occurred today is just a random one," said the official.
"We took measures to auction the tugboat as the owner abandoned it. But the boat is in a legal tussle, and State Bank of India stopped the procedure to auction due to some default by the owner. The wreckage could be removed only with the permission of the bank or the court."
He said that amount to the tune of Rs 46 lakh would be collected as dues before the wreckage is removed.
An official of the Coastguard said that the tugboat has been lying there for the past four years. "We have warned the Port authorities about this. The oil spill could pose a serious hazard to the marine ecosystem. We intervene in incidents which occur beyond 24 nautical miles. Port should have facilities to deal with such incident," said the official. The Pollution Control Board authorities said that the site would be under its watch until the wreckage is removed....