Test confirms oil spill in Bay | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, December 23, 2010 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, December 23, 2010

Test confirms oil spill in Bay

DoE officials locate ship near Sitakunda coast

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A test on seawater collected from the Bay of Bengal has confirmed the oil spill off the coastline of Sitakunda in Chittagong.
“We wrote to the port authority to take measures against Indian flag carrier Ocean Pearl after being sure that the ship caused the spill,” said Zafar Alam, director of Chittagong Department of Environment that conducted the test, yesterday.
An oil slick had been first noticed on Monday in the bay off Sitakunda.
“The captain of Ocean Pearl admitted to me that his ship caused the spill. The affected area is under the jurisdiction of the port authority that has a magistrate to look after it,” said Zafar in reply to why the DoE, despite having a legal mandate, did not move against the ship.
Wishing anonymity, a port official said the Ocean Pearl staff admitted that 330 tonnes of oil was transported recently to an undisclosed location to salvage the ship that had been grounded two months back.
The DoE director said they had searched the shorelines where ship-breaking yards are located but there was no trace of any major oil spill.
He said they did not find any oil slick three-kilometre-long as reported by some pilots and passengers who flew over the area.
“When you see something from the sky, it might not be what you think it is,” he said referring to the Bangladesh Biman pilots and passengers, who saw the oil slick while flying in and out of the Shah Amanat International Airport on Monday and Tuesday.
Zafar said the Ocean Pearl has been grounded for the last two months. The spill might have occurred during an attempt to steal oil from the vessel.
Chittagong Port Authority had sent a team comprised of a magistrate and an official to Charpara where the vessel remains grounded.
Referring to the team's findings, a port official said the company that owns the ship had been trying to salvage the grounded vessel in Charpara.
“The ship was under extensive repair there and its technicians recently transported 330 tonnes of oil from its hull to an unknown location. It is not unusual for a grounded ship to empty its load in the outer anchorage,” said the official.
Preferring anonymity, another official said it is quite common for ships waiting to be scrapped to discard huge volume of oil and sludge from lower tanks.
“These people take advantage of lack of monitoring by the Department of Environment and the port authority,” said the official.
The port authority has a mandate to slap a fine of Tk 1 lakh on the spot for any marine pollution.

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