Nagai coast tense as oil pipe leak spills into sea
TIRUCHY: Tension gripped parts of Nagapattinam coastline on Friday following oil spill into the sea triggered by a burst in the underwater pipeline of the Chennai Petroleum Corporation Ltd (CPCL).
Panicked by the leak, fishermen from several hamlets gathered at the spot and demanded to remove the pipeline that was laid 20 years back, even as the officials along with ICG patrolling vessels and drones were surveying the spill into the sea .
Sources said that the CPCL pumps crude oil through the underwater pipeline for a distance of nine km from Chidambaranar boat jetty to its refinery at Narimanam. Late on Thursday night, some fishermen from the Pattinamcherry village, who checked the coast after sensing oil smell along the coast, spotted a burst in the CPCL’s underwater crude oil pipeline. By Friday morning, they were shocked to see a thick layer of oil spread across the sea and alerted revenue officials and the police.
On information, officials from CPCL and ONGC, who reached the spot, detected a burst in the pipeline after a thorough inspection of the entire pipeline on the coast. Soon, they sought the help of the Indian Coast Guard patrolling vessels Charlie 435, 436 and drones to survey the extend of the oil spill in the waters.
Meanwhile, fishermen announced an indefinite strike demanding permanent removal of the underwater pipeline, which was causing skin irritation and other health problems. By that time, a team of safety officers from CPCL, led by Gokul, arrived at the spot to plug the leak in the pipeline. But, locals stopped them and demanded to remove the pipe permanently.
As the tension was mounting, a police team, led by the DSP Balakrishnan, held pacified the protesting fishermen and assured that the pipes would be removed after plugging the leak.
In the meantime, the Pattinacherry fishermen panchayat members, who came there, said, when the pipeline was laid 20 years back, when local fishermen opposed it, officials convinced them by assuring that the pipeline would be inspected every day to ensure no leakage or break occurs. They also said that the line would not burst at all. “But now, there is a burst and the fishermen have been affected,” the panchayat members said.
However, a senior CPCL official said that a team of officials has been posted to check the line four times a day. “Owing to teh rough weather for the past few days, officials could not carry out the regular inspection. The crack will be rectified shortly”, the official said.
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