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Tuesday, March 17, 2015, Chaitra 3, 1421 BS, Jamadi ul Awwal 25, 1436 Hijr

Oil spill in Sundarban
Report suggests separate rules for oil tanker vessels
Published : Tuesday, 17 March, 2015,  Time : 12:00 AM,  View Count : 12
Banani Mallick
The government is now scrutinizing a report it received from the probe committee on the damage to Sundarban from the recent oil spill.
It will take necessary steps against those who will be found responsible for the huge oil spill following the sinking of an oil tanker in the River Shela of the Sundarban, said Shipping Minister Shahjahan Khan on Monday.
"Already we have started reviewing the report.  We will take steps once the review is completed," he added.
The comment came after an inquiry committee under Shipping Ministry on Sunday submitted its report.
About implementation of the findings, he said that this time they would take strong steps to set examples so that others do not dare to commit such offences.
According to sources, the report suggested about 23 recommendations including riverine route protection and using mandatory double bottom for all the oil tanker or vessels moving internally.
It also suggested supervision of the river vessels and a separate survey rules for oil tankers.
The report was submitted to the Shipping Ministry after three months of the oil spill on Shela river of Sundarban where the accident took place on December 9 last year.
Of the recommendations two relate to law under the jurisdiction of the Shipping Ministry, two are about navigational security, eleven administrative and six are about survey and others.
The recommendations include streamlining the general clause-72 of the Inland Shipping Ordinance and framing separate rules for oil tanker vessels.
Md Nur-Ur-Rahman, Joint Secretary of the Ministry of Shipping and also convener of the inquiry committee, told The Daily Observer that the report suggests reforming the existing laws and rules for checking river vessel accidents.
The spill occurred when an oil-tanker named Southern Star VII, carrying 350,000 litres (77,000 imp gal; 92,000 US gal) of furnace oil, was in collision with a cargo vessel and sank in the river.
 By December 17, the oil had spread over a square 350 km (140 sq mi) area.
The oil spread to a second river and a network of canals in Sundarban, which blackened the shoreline. The spill threatened trees, plankton, and vast populations of small fish and dolphins.
The spill occurred at a protected mangrove area, home to rare Irrawaddy and Ganges dolphins. By 12 January 2015, 70,000 litres (15,000 imp gal; 18,000 US gal) of oil had been cleaned up by local residents.
Very recently the United Nations and the Bangladesh government have jointly conducted assessment report on the oil spill in Shela river.
However, the report said oil contamination in the aquatic ecosystem may hamper physiological activities including breeding of aquatic organisms and disrupt food chain or the food web.
A 25-member joint team comprising experts from various offices of the UN and the government of Bangladesh conducted a study over a six-day period in the last week of December.
They used site observations, interviews, aerial photography, sampling and other assessment techniques to evaluate the situation and develop recommendations.

Editor : Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury
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