Another oil spill!
We are confronted once again with an oil spill of at least 50,000 litres of diesel and petrol in the Kirtankhola River in Barisal on July 14. The head on collision between two marine vessels caused a crack in oil-laden MT Fazal and hundreds of people have been busy collecting the oil spill with buckets, which is hardly an effective way to tackle an oil spill. This is a common enough occurrence on our rivers and going by government data published in 2015, there are approximately 7,000 small and medium size water vessels that run on Bangladesh's coast and inside rivers and canals. We have experienced some major spill in the last few years. The most acute of these occurred on December 2014 when an oil tanker carrying 357,000 litres of furnace oil capsized in the Shela River inside the Sundarbans. That spill killed a huge number of animals and wildlife including dolphins.
It is accidents like these that have many people worried about such spillages in the Sundarbans if the Rampal power plant starts operating as it will inevitably result in the traffic of tankers to intensify in the waterways of the Sundarbans. It is understood that a draft contingency plan has been formulated that talks about a separate entity that will lead the response to future oil spills. The reality however is that only the coast guard has the access and capacity to work along coastal areas. The plan should be expedited so that we have one authority that can be equipped to handle such spills and there can be provisions to seek technical and logistical support from other countries in the region.