UN team collects water, soil samples
On the first day of their four-day visit in the Sundarbans, the United Nations team yesterday collected samples of water, soil and plants from the affected area along the Shela river.
Divided into six groups, the 25-member team comprising multidisciplinary experts from home and abroad have started their work to assess the impact of the oil spill on the ecology of the mangrove forest.
The groups will focus on specific issues from aquatic resources to mangrove plants to wildlife to human health. A separate team, however, will seek to find out the ways to respond immediately to the crisis, said a member of the team.
Two weeks after an oil tanker, carrying 3.58 lakh litres of furnace oil, sank in the Shela river in the Sundarbans, the UN experts team has come to visit the area for an assessment of the damage done to the environment and wildlife of the forest.
Members of the team collected samples of the soil from the bank of the river as they wanted to find out whether the spilled oil had reached below the top soil level, said another member.
Local forest officials said members of the team had trekked up to the Harintana forest station which is around 40 kilomitres away from the accident spot in the Shela river.
The team members, specialised in oil spill intervention measures and also in various other aspects of mangrove forest management system, are expected to submit a report to the government by the end of this month.
The UN team would conduct laboratory tests of those samples and incorporate the test results into the report, said a member.
Nazibur Rahman, secretary to the ministry of environment and forest, Shafiqul Alam Mehedi, secretary to the shipping ministry and Md Yunus Ali, the chief conservator of forest, will join the team today.