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More than 56 hours after a collision of two vessels off the Ennore port, ill-equipped pollution response teams of the Indian Coast Guard were on Monday grappling with the oil spill that spread southward beyond Marina beach, about 25km from the accident spot. Coast Guard workers used 25-litre buckets to scoop out over two tonnes of heavy fuel oil that had spilled from the ship, Dawn Kanchipuram. When they stopped work at dawn on Monday, only a fraction of the spilled oil had been removed. Reinforcements are expected arrive from Delhi on Tuesday to expedite the cleanup process.
Two submersible pumps used by the Coast Guard to remove the oil sludge broke down. With no other equipment at hand, the workers used buckets to scoop out the oil on the shore. This slowed down the cleanup work. A long line of workers and local people passed around oil-filled buckets from the shore to 1,000-litre tankers waiting by the roadside.
The smell of fuel oil, which was heavily concentrated on the shore, wafted through the neighbourhood. Rocks on the coast were coated in sludge.
Oil drifted on the sea surface at the rate of eight to 10 cm per second as strong northeasterly winds and southerly longshore currents pushed the heavy furnace oil to more than 22km near Pattinampakkam since the collision at 4am on Saturday.
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