Press Releases

  • TERI analysis shows high levels of oil contamination at Awas beach and INS Kunjali Site

    15 September 2010

    The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) has come up with the first development report on the extent of contamination due to the recent oil spill caused by collision of MSC Chitra and MV Khalija off the Mumbai coast. The reports show a dire need to set standards for India to have a regulatory standard for oil contamination in soil, which at the moment is not prevalent.

    With permission from MPCB, TERI along with IOCL had carried out clean-up operations at Awas beach - Alibaugh on August 20, 2010 and INS Kunjali, Navy Nagar Site on August 28, 2010. The beach was physically cleaned and oil contaminated soil, tar balls etc were transferred to a secured HDPE lined bioremediation site near the sea beach post which TERI's globally acclaimed 'Oilzapper' technology was used to rid the debris and soil from oil and oily sludge.

    Awas beach was mainly contaminated with tar balls and other biodegradable debris, which were separated from the non- biodegradable materials such as plastics, bottles etc. The zero time sample of the spill contained 6% (w/w) i.e 60,000 mg/kg of total petroleum hydrocarbon (TPH). This higher much than the international permissible limit of 1000 mg/kg. At the INS Kunjali Navy Nagar site the oil contamination on zero day was 38%, (w/w) i.e 3, 81, 000 mg/Kg.

    These concentrations of TPH are much higher (especially for INS Kunjali Navy Nagar site) than the international permissible limits. This also implies that the clean-up process for INS Kunjali Navy Nagar site would take longer than Alibaugh.

    Dr. Banwari Lal, Director, TERI said: "The contamination in both the sites has been way above the international permissible limits. At present there is no permissible limit set for oil contamination in soil in India. We hope that the concerned regulatory authorities set the standard limit so that the polluters can be penalized."

    He further added, "In both the sites, tilling of the oily waste is being carried out manually on a weekly basis and the samples are collected on a fortnightly basis for analysis."

    The current oil spill is due to furnace oil stored in the ship, which by the virtue of its composition is heavier and more difficult to degrade than crude oil. Furnace oil also contains organo-sulphur compounds which are highly un-desirable from the environmental perspective. Presently there are no limits on the contamination of the soil in India.

    Oilzapper is a patented consortium of crude oil and oily sludge degrading bacteria derived from various naturally occurring and non-pathogenic bacterial cultures. Over a time frame of four months, these biological organisms eat up the contaminants (mostly organic compounds) convert them into carbon dioxide and clean up the surrounding area without any harmful residue or side-effects.

    During the past ten years, with the help of Oilzapper, more than 1,50,000 tons of oil-soaked soil and oily sludge has been treated, and more than 10,000 hectares of surface area (both land and water) has been cleaned.