Chennai oil spill leads to closure of pipelines
22 July 2013
On July 19 the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) of India ordered Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL) to stop pumping oil through its pipelines at Tondiarpet in northern Chennai after a large scale oil spill contaminated groundwater. BPCL is already pumping out contaminated water from contaminated borewells but much more needs to be done.
This has corroborated local reports that the oil content in water from residential borewells was making the liquid a fire risk.
According to local sources, the CPCB has asked BPCL to submit a credible remedial action plan with timeline. The BPCL pipeline that passes through the contaminated area can resume operations only after getting clearance from the CPCB.
Earlier, the CPCB and the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board had issued notices to the company demanding an explanation as to why it had failed to take action despite repeated complaints from locals.
According to the Express News, the issue was only addressed after a major outcry by locals, which forced Union Minister for the Environment Jayanti Natarajan to intervene.
The Times of India said the operation is expected to last at least a month given the magnitude of the contamination of groundwater, over an area that experts estimated to be 1 sq.km. Six days after the first reports about the leak from two oil pipelines in the area, temporary workers hired by Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd (BPCL) collected more than 1,000 litres of fuel, mostly diesel, from borewells.