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Fish dead, now oil leak threatens Orissa turtles
Bhubaneswar, Apr 13 (IANS):
Published on 13 Apr. 2010 11:38 PM IST
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Hundreds of fish have died and thousands of endangered sea turtles and their eggs face a threat due to an oil leak from an Indian ship two km off Orissa’s coast near Gopalpur port, a wild life expert said Tuesday.
“More than 100,000 Olive Ridley turtles had nested last month on the Rushikulya beach and millions of eggs were laid by them. If urgent measures are not taken, the oil will reach the eggs with waves and cause irreversible damage,” said Biswajit Mohanty, secretary of the Wildlife Society of Orissa.
“Hundreds of fish have already died and turtles present in the offshore waters may also face problems,” he said. “An oil coat was found spread over a seven km area off the beach - just 200 metres from the site of the eggs,” Mohanty told IANS from the site.
“Marine fauna which form the food for the turtles will be severely affected by the oil. Dolphins can also be impacted by the spill,” he said.
The non-coking coal laden ship sailing from Indonesia had anchored nearly two km away from the port at Gopalpur in Ganjam district, about 170 km from here, when a barge hit it, leading to the oil leak Monday evening. “The barge engaged in cargo operation went out of control due to rough sea conditions and hit the ship,” P.K. Panigrahi, a senior official of the Gopalpur port, told IANS. “There was a leakage of about seven to eight tonnes of fuel oil from the ship. But the leakage was spotted and contained within half an hour,” he said.
The port authorities engaged 400 workers to remove the oil from water and coast but Mohanty said the cleaning process was slow.
District Collector V.K. Pandian said officials have been sent to assess the damage caused by the oil to marine life and environment.

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