Need regulatory standard for oil contamination in soil: TERI

TERI, which has come up with its first development report on the extent of contamination caused by the collision, said that there was a dire need to set standards for India to have a regulatory standard for oil contamination in soil, a press release issued here stated.

Two cargo ships -- MSC Chitra and MV Khalija III -- had collided on August 7 following which the former tilted precariously and began leaking oil into the sea.An estimated 500 tonnes of oil spilled into the sea and about 250 containers, some carrying hazardous chemicals got hurled overboard.

TERI along with IOCL had carried out clean-up operations at Awas beach, Alibaug and INS Kunjali, Navy Nagar.

The analysis showed that Awas beach was mainly contaminated with tar balls and other biodegradable debris, which were separated from the non-biodegradable materials such as plastics and bottles.

The zero time sample of the spill contained six per cent (w/w) or 60,000 mg/kg of total petroleum hydrocarbon (TPH). This is much higher than the international permissible limit of 1,000 mg/kg, the release said.At the INS Kunjali, the oil contamination on zero day was 38 per cent (w/w) or 3,81,000 mg/Kg, it said.

"The contamination in both the sites has been way above the international permissible limits. At present, there is no permissible limit set for oil contamination in soil in India. We hope that the concerned regulatory authorities set the standard limit so that the polluters can be penalised," TERI's Director, Dr Banwari Lal, said.

The current oil spill was due to furnace oil stored in the ship, which by the virtue of its composition is heavier and more difficult to degrade than crude oil."Furnace oil also contains organo-sulphur compounds, which are highly undesirable from the environmental perspective. But presently there are no limits on the contamination of the soil in India," he said.

The clean-up was done with the help of Oilzapper, which is a patented consortium of crude oil and oily sludge degrading bacteria derived from various naturally occurring and non-pathogenic bacterial cultures.

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