Port Blair, Sept 22: Andaman and Nicobar Group of Islands are highly eco sensitive and the waters around islands are vulnerable to marine pollution. The Great six degree Channel between the Nicobar Islands and Northern Sumatra that leads into the Malacca Straits is the Marine Drive of the high seas. Almost 200 ships cross the 160-km wide Straits daily making it among the busiest sea routes of the world. Considering the tanker traffic through this route, the area is highly vulnerable to oil spills. In case of any spill due tanker accident, the likelihood of it reaching the shores of eco-sensitive islands is very high and this may cause irreversible harm to the flora & fauna causing imbalance to the bio diversity which includes endangering marine species, damaging virgin beaches, coastline, mangroves, corals, fishery and marine protected areas. Besides tanker traffic through six degree channel, ten degree and coco channel also see significant daily traffic of large merchant vessels passing through.
The Indian Coast Guard is the Central Coordinating Agency (CCA) for responding to oil spill that occurs in the Maritime Zones of India. There has been continuous efforts by the Indian Coast Guard to train all stake holders in oil spill response so as concerted efforts are made in case of any eventuality resulting accidental spillage of oil. Accordingly, a realistic scenario was simulated alongwith various stake holders viz PMB,IOCL while conducting a regional level oil spill response Mock drill at Haddo Wharf. Wherein, for simulation Coast Guard Helicopter operating in area reported for prominent presence of oil sleeks in adjoining area around an ocean going oil tanker whilst discharging HSD, which had a mechanical valve fault onboard and resulted in unnoticed oil leakage through sea chest.
On receipt of the alert, immediately pollution response team was pressed into action. PMB assisted ICG for mobilization of vital Pollution Response equipment to Haddo wharf. A 230 mtrs long boom was inflated and lowered for concealing the floating oil around the ship. Thereafter, Specialized oil skimmer was lowered for exercising oil retrieval procedures. In addition Coast Guard Helicopter also simulated spraying of Oil Spill Dispersant using TC-III bucket in adjoining area to neutralize the oil spill in actual scenario. The drill was also witnessed by observers from Forest department, Mercantile Marine Department and CISF.
The mock drill was a constructive step towards validation of pollution response preparedness by the various national stake holders capabilities and their respective plans in Andaman Region. A communique received from PRO Coast Guard. “Vyam Rakshamah – We Protect”.