Oil leak threatens marine life
On April 22, 2009, seepage was detected in the single point mooring (SPM) at Paradip, from where pipes carry crude oil to the Haldia refinery. Sources say the breakage resulted in 3,000 tonnes of crude oil spilling into the sea, threatening fragile underwater ecosystems.
Officials from the Indian Oil Corporation have denied any major threat to marine life and assert that they closed the SPM at the first trace of oil on the sea surface and sprayed the area with a spill dispersant. However, the real danger lies in the fact that the summer currents are likely to wash the oil toward the Gahirmatha Wildlife Sanctuary, whose southernmost boundary is only 15 km. from the Paradip port. Gahirmatha is the world’s most important ridley turtle breeding ground and the resultant pollution will also damage benthic fauna like molluscs, sea worms and anemones, which form the turtles’ prey base. At the time of writing IOC technicians are still trying to repair the SPM.