On January 28, around 4 am, two ships – the British vessel BW Maple which was carrying cargo of LPG (liquefied Petroleum Gas) cargo, collided with the Indian vessel MT Kancheepuram, an oil and chemical tanker, on the outskirts of the port in Ennore. This led to an oil spill.The Coast Guard had said that the spill would be contained by Saturday evening (same day) or Sunday morning.Kamarajar Port chairman MA Bhaskarachar had initially said there was no damage to the environment or any form of oil spill. The officials did not predict the nightmare that Chennai coastline was about to witness.The Kamarajar Port did no inform Coast Guard about the ship collision for over three┬áhours, which further delayed the process of estimating the extent of actual damage.It was reported that MT Dawn Kancheepuram had to wait for two days in the outer harbour, even as the oil continued to spill into the sea.A volunteer is seen scrubbing rocks on the coast of North Chennai using pressurised spraying equipment filled with chemicals to remove the oil. (Express Photo | Ravi Saravanan.)The International Tanker Owners Pollution Federation said on Thursday, February 2 that the proportion of oil cleaned up, out of the 20 metric tonnes that leaked into the sea, was probably lower than 10 per cent, whereas the Coast Guard had previously given assurances that the clean-up drive would be wrapped up by that date.Over thousands volunteered in the last 10 days in an effort to clean up the thick black slick that has coated several kilometres of rocks and sand along the coast from Ennore to Marina. These volunteers have been offered boots and suits and access to a make-shift medical camp and food from Amma canteen. But they did not have any special equipment and simply relied on rubber gloves and pails to remove the muck.Since the beginning of cleanup operations, 121 tonnes of oil sludge, 65 tonnes of oil-sand mix and 72 Kilolitres of oil-water mix has been removed. Minister of State for Shipping Pon Radhakrishnan, who visited the Ramakrishna Nagar Kuppam site, said on Sunday, February 5.

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