Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Container And Bulk Vessel Collision Closes Mumbai Port To Shipping

Pollution Clean Up Under Way but Danger Lurks Under Water
Shipping News Feature

INDIA – The collision between the38,500 tonne container ship MSC Chitra and the bulk carrier MV Khalizia –lll on Saturday has had repercussions affecting two of India’s busiest ports. Both the Mumbai Port Trust (MPT) and the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) remain closed after the accident which caused well over 100 containers to fall into the sea, several deck borne boxes are believed to contain hazardous chemicals including pesticides.

The Chitra appears to have been the more badly damaged as she was struck leaving JNPT whilst the other vessel was heading for a berth at Mumbai. The Chitra slewed around with the impact, scattering 20’ and 40’boxes and was seen to be leaking oil heavily, a rate of 2 tonnes per hour has been quoted locally. Helicopters were working in tandem with coastguard vessels today in an attempt to minimise the impact of the spillages by spraying chemicals to disperse the oil.

One of the major problems is that the lost containers are sunk or semi sunk in the main shipping channel posing a danger to any approaching vessel plus the fact the Chitra is still listing heavily, apparently aground. Local authorities have appealed for overseas assistance for what they describe as ‘potentially an environmental disaster’.

At the moment shipping lines are scrambling to re-route vessels to alternative ports such as Mundra and Kandia for both bulk and containerised cargoes until the situation is resolved. Although the collision resulted in no serious casualties at the time a local constable, Ramesh Tukaram More aged 45, was reported as drowned whilst patrolling a mile or so from the grounded vessel today after falling from a small boat in which he was travelling with three colleagues who were circling the area.