Thiruvananthapuram: About 2,000 litres of furnace oil from the state-run Travancore Titanium Products (TTP) here leaked into the sea on Wednesday over a one km stretch, but was contained within half-an-hour and the cleaning operation underway, company officials said.
Local fishermen first spotted the leak, from the pumping line to the boiler, which spread from Veli to Shangumughamarea and alerted the TTP officials and other authorities concerned. Coastguard ship C-441 and Dornier aircraft from Kochi conducted surveillance along the Veli coast here.
The coastguard vessel is closely monitoring the situation and is equipped with all logistics in case the oil spill spreads due to tidal movements, A Defence press release said. It was estimated that about 2000 litres oil leaked into the sea, it said.
Earlier, company officials told PTI that the leak was plugged within 30 minutes and the cleaning process has been initiated with the help of locals.
"Since the leak was near the drain, it spread to the sea along the coast for nearly one km. The cleaning process has begun. The work is being done with the help of the locals and it is expected to be completed by this evening.We will resume the work only after replacing the faulty line," TTP Managing Director Georgee Ninan told PTI. The company is a pioneer manufacturer and distributor of titaniumdioxide anatase grade pigment. Thiruvananthapuram District Collector Navjot Khosa inspected the site andthe adjacent beach and said the authorities were examining the extent of damage.
The district authority, in consultation with the Kerala Pollution Control Board, has initiated the process of removing the polluted sand from the beach. "We plan to finish the cleaning process by removing the polluted sand from the beach and separate the oil. As of now, it has not spread much into the sea.
"But we still need to monitor the sea with the help of the Coastguardand to assess the situation in the next 48 hours. The spread depends upon the wind and tide conditions," Khosa told reporters. She said the KPCB will assess the damage caused to the fishermen and nature and decide the compensation to be given.
"Further action will be taken after the board submits its report. There are guidelines in case of such spills. We will act accordingly, she said. Congress MLA V S Sivakumar, who visited the area, claimed fishermen would not be able to put out to sea for atleast a month as the area has been polluted.
"Fishermen, especially those in the shore seine fishing activity, have been affected. The state government should give adequate compensation to those who have lost their livelihood," he told reporters. Ninan said the company will discuss the matter with the councillors and the local people and provide necessary compensation to those who lost their livelihood.