Thursday, September 2, 2010

Tar balls coat Indian beaches after ship dumps oil

Reckless behavior endangers the water and beaches again. Illegal dumping by ships is an international epidemic. The parties responsible for this reprehensible behavior should be held accountable and penalized to the full extent of the law. Story contributed by the AP.

"PANAJI, India – Wave after wave of tar balls floated ashore Wednesday on the renowned Goa beaches after a ship dumped tons of waste oil off India's western coast, officials said.
Semisolid lumps of oil formed layers up to six inches deep (15 centimeters deep) on beaches in the popular tourist destination. Scores of civic workers used brooms to collect and clear the oily debris, but still more tar balls were washing ashore about three days after officials believe a ship dumped burnt oil at sea.

Indian navy and coast guard vessels were trying to trace the ship, said Aleixo Sequeira, the state's environment minister. He declined to say what action would be taken when the vessel is found.Ships regularly clean their fuel tanks and discharge the waste oil at sea, but this case involved careless dumping that exceeded all proportions, say scientists at India's National Institute of Oceanography, located in Goa.

"Crude oil mixes with water to form an emulsion that looks like chocolate pudding. Winds and waves continue to stretch and tear the oil patches into smaller pieces, or tar balls," said S. R. Shetye, who heads the institute.

Popular beaches such as Colva, Candolim and Calangute were badly hit. The beaches are not closed, but few visitors are there since tourism season begins in October. Goa's tourism industry is worried that news of the pollution could put off visitors to one of the most sought after and cheap beach destinations in India. Nearly 2.5 million tourists visit annually, including half a million foreigners, mostly from the U.K., Israel and Russia.
"This should not have happened. It will not be good for tourism in Goa," said Gaurish Dhond, president of the Travel and Tourism Association of Goa."


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