Saturday 31 August 2013

Oil spill in the Gulf of Khambhat.

The Indian Coast Guard has reported a 3-5 km oil spill in the Gulf of Khambat following a rupture in an Oil and Natural Gas Corporation pipeline near Bhadbhut in Gujarat State, on Friday 30 August 2013. The Coast Guard have recommended that small boats be used to churn the slick up, enabling naturally occurring microbes to access more of the surface area and break the oil down more quickly, rather than use chemical dispersants, which are the preferred method of dealing with spills in India, due to the confined and shallow nature of the Gulf. Chemical dispersants can cause further environmental problems, being themselves persistent in the environment and toxic to wildlife.

The approximate location of the Bhadbhut oil spill. Google Maps.

The environmental consequences of this spill are not yet clear. In many countries authorities would attempt to contain such a spill with booms and pump as much as possible out of the water, though this may not be possible in the Gulf of Khambhat, which is noted for extreme tides and fast currents. While microbes will break down oil eventually, this is not usually a quick process, and oil can have severe a strongly adverse effect on wildlife, as well as health implications for human populations. Breaking up a spill in an enclosed area may result in large areas of beach being oiled. 

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