'Oil spill has created huge mess on beaches'

An alarming level of oil has been found in sand on these beaches following the spill caused by the collision of two merchant vessels off the Mumbai coast on August 7.

The oil washed ashore has seeped into the sand at the beaches in Mumbai and those at Sasvane, Alibag and Uran (all in Raigad), creating a "huge mess", they said.

National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI), which has collected samples of water and sediments, is analysing them.

"Except in Dadar, we have found oil in the sand in Colaba, Priyadarshani Park, Breach Candy, Alibag and Uran beaches," Rakesh Mathur, Mumbai office in-charge of the Nagpur-based NEERI, said.

Deepak Apte, a senior scientist at Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) who has been asked by the Coast Guard to assess the pollution caused by the oil spill, described the situation on the beaches as "grim".

Talking to PTI from Sasvane, about five nautical miles (10km) from here, he said, "we are worried as to how this huge mess will be cleaned up to avoid adverse impact on people's health."

Meanwhile, Shyam Asolekar, a Professor at the Centre for Environmental Science and Engineering at IIT here, said he was taking a group of 20 students to assess the situation in Geetha Nagar, a fishermen's colony in South Mumbai.

"This trip will give my students a chance to assess the pollution and contamination caused by the spill. Sand and Silt Washing Reactors (SSWR), developed by IIT, will be helpful in cleaning the beaches," he said.

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