| Guwahati |
Updated: May 30, 2020 11:24:16
More than 60 hours after the explosion of an oil well belonging to Oil India Limited (OIL) in Haut-Assam, the authorities have yet to control the leak. On Wednesday morning, an eruption – or an uncontrolled release of natural gas – was reported at the Baghjan oil field at OIL in the district of Tinsukia. The area is located in the immediate vicinity of Dibru-Saikhowa National Park.
As the eruption continued until Friday evening, Assam’s chief minister, Sarbananda Sonowal, discussed the situation with Dharmendra Pradhan, Minister of Oil and Natural Gas and Minister of Steel, and Chandra Mishra CMD of OIL, asking the latter to make sure that the leak is stopped as soon as possible.
“We are carrying out operations, teams of experts are there. Many steps need to be taken to control the spill, “said OIL spokesperson Tridiv Hazarika,” We need to get a huge supply of water, install a pipeline, move heavy equipment and much more. Once these things are in place, we can control the well. There is no shortcut to preparation. “
According to an OIL press release, the eruption was reported on Wednesday at 10:30 am when a production well under the Baghjan oil field “suddenly became very active while the works were underway”.
After the incident, nearly 500 people were evacuated from the village of Baghjan and are currently in a school relief camp. “Some also live with their own parents,” said Bhaskar Pegu, Tinsukia DC. “We are planning to set up another relief camp on Saturday.” Authorities also extended the radius of the designated danger area from 600 meters to 1.5 km on Friday.
Currently, the OIL team as well as a crisis management team from Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Ltd (ONGCL) and a team of experts from ONGCL, Vadodara are at work.
DC Pegu said a strong smell of gas was floating in the air and the petroleum condensate had spread and also settled on nearby wetlands. The Baghjan oil field is located right next to the Maguri-Motapung wetland, which is part of the eco-sensitive area of Dibru-Saikhowa National Park, known in particular for its migratory birds and wild horses.
Environmentalists sounded the alarm on Friday when residents found the carcass of a gangetic dolphin – in the “endangered” category by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) – with its skin peeled in the Maguri wetland. “Even a number of the fish are dead – tomorrow we will know the extent of the damage,” said Jiban Dutta, a Tinsukia-based bird guide who had visited the site.
Niranta Gohain, an environmental activist based in Tinsukia, added, “This is the nesting season for birds and the breeding of fish. The oil spill has had a detrimental effect on biodiversity – especially because it is an ecologically sensitive area. “
Authorities said the dolphin’s carcass had been sent for an autopsy to determine the cause of death. “We are also concerned, but if the gas had had a negative impact on the region’s wildlife, we would have seen many more dead animals,” said Hazarika. “We are not ruling out the fact that this dolphin could have died due to the spill, but we can be sure once the autopsy report is released.” Earlier this month, the Department of the Environment, of Forests and Climate Change had given environmental authorization for drilling at seven locations under Dibru Saikhowa National Park.
In a statement, Minister Pradhan said on Friday: “OIL wants to reassure local people in the region that their well-being, health and safety are the company’s top priority. OIL also closely monitors the environment and does its best to minimize the impact. “
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