Chennai Ennore oil spill: Fishermen forced to clean oil spill with plastic jugs

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In the aftermath of the oil spill in the Buckingham Canal at Chennai’s Ennore Creek, local fishermen from various villages have been spotted using rudimentary methods such as plastic jugs to remove the oil slick from the water’s surface.

This oil spill happened in Chennai during the torrential downpour brought on by Cyclone Michaung.

The incident first gained widespread attention when a video depicting the oil spill surfaced on Instagram, becoming viral as internet connectivity was restored in the region.

Initial assessments by the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB), based on information from the Chennai Petroleum Corporation Limited (CPCL), indicated no pipeline leaks. However, they acknowledged that oil had indeed reached the estuary.

The oil spill happened in Chennai during the torrential downpour brought on by Cyclone Michaung. (Photo: India Today)

The National Green Tribunal intervened, demanding comprehensive reports from both TNPCB and CPCL, which subsequently led to a round of finger-pointing between the parties involved.

In the midst of this controversy, the Coast Guard undertook an aerial survey on December 9 and 10, utilising specialised equipment to evaluate the situation, claiming to have prevented further damage to the delicate ecosystem.

The Tamil Nadu Government convened an urgent meeting, directing CPCL to address the contamination. CPCL responded by stating that containment booms, gully suckers, and a fleet of 60 boats were operational at Ennore Creek.

Local fishermen are being compensated to undertake the cleanup efforts. (Photo: India Today)

However, a ground report by India Today revealed that it was the local fishermen who were being compensated to undertake the cleanup efforts.

Elumalai, a 50-year-old fisherman, lamented the impact of the spill, which had persisted for two weeks, preventing them from fishing. He described the painstaking process of scooping up oil with a plastic mug and transferring it to drums via a funnel.

Devadas, aged 65, echoed Elumalai’s sentiments, detailing how they were instructed by police and CPCL officials to gather the oil. He highlighted the extent of the spill, covering the estuary’s mouth, which spans nearly 750 meters.

D Jayakumar, the former Fisheries Minister, visited the affected site and held CPCL accountable for the disaster. He urged the corporation to provide adequate compensation to the fishermen for their lost income and cover the repair costs for their damaged fishing gear, which could amount to significant sums due to the oil spill.

Published By:

Rishabh Sharma

Published On:

Dec 14, 2023

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