KARACHI / QUETTA: The Environment Protection Agency (EPA) of Balochistan on Thursday ordered private firm to halt operations due to an oil spill in the Karachi’s coastal area surrounding Charna Island.
EPA Director General Tariq Zehri told The Express Tribune that survey teams of EPA, Pakistan Navy, private firm and independent experts would begin investigating the incident on Friday (today).
“Containment booms have been mobilised and controlling damage is top priority,” said Zehri. “Whoever is found responsible will be fined heavy penalties for the damage caused to the environment and the marine life.”
This oil slick spreading over one-and-a-half-kilometre in Mubarak Village has created panic among residents who feel that the marine flora and fauna are under threat.
Locals relayed that the oil spill was spotted when sea tides left “black lines” and “globs” while receding.“Our people can’t go fishing. It is spread over the entire beach connecting more than 40 villages,” said Mubarak Village Councillor Sarfaraz Haroon. “I am 31 years old and have not seen such an oil spill in our area. I don’t know whether it has been released from a ship or an oil refinery located near our area.” Hundreds of dead fish wash ashore on Karachi’s Sea View beach
Reports pouring in suggested some areas of Gadani, Abbas Goth, Abdul Rehman Goth and Juma Village which are located in the vicinity have been affected by the oil slick.
“When we got up on Wednesday morning I smelled oil. Thought it was because of our generator at first but later spotted it on the beach,” said a local Ghani Baloch while speaking to The Express Tribune. “People have spent the entire day but could not catch a single fish. Our boats and nets have also been affected by the oil.”
The oil slick report is not something new for Karachi beaches. It frequently happens because oil is leaked from passing-by ships.
World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Technical Director Muhammad Moazzam Khan confirmed the oil slick in the area, but said, “It is not so serious,” adding that a team of WWF-Pakistan has visited the area to collect samples.
“It is weathered oil and around one-and-a-half-kilometre area is affected. We have not witnessed the mortality of marine life,” he said. “It will be premature to comment on cause of the oil spill at this moment. It might have leaked from a ship or released from a refinery.”
Khan further added that his team had taken the oil fingerprints and would disclose the findings soon. “The fingerprints are taken to trace the oil slick source and adopt measures. It is responsibility of the EPA to visit the area when such a situation arises and take preventive measures.”
On the other hand, a civil society activist Khuda Ganj, who resides in the area, said, “I have found two dead crabs on our beach. One day ago, we felt the smell, but now the oil is exposed on the beach and its stones.”