Two oil tankers collide & cause massive environmental damage outside Kamarajar Port, India’s only privately owned port

Oil spill Kamarajar Port (Arun Sankar:AFP:Getty Images) Jan 30 2017

Two oil tankers collided early Saturday morning outside Kamarajar Port (formerly named Ennore Port) near Chennai, India. Port officials called it a minor accident, announced there was no damage to the environment, & said the movement of ships was not affected.

Coast Guard officials in Chennai said they were assessing the situation but “Kamarajar Port has the wherewithal to arrest the spill, which is a minor one” with a containment boom (a floating barrier used to contain oil spills).

Maybe the Coast Guard & port officials didn’t notice the thin film of oil for two nautical miles along coast. Possible? Because local residents reported thick black oil along the beach & turtles washing ashore dead; fishermen were unable to maneuver their boats through the oil deposits.

It’s a red alert that Kamarajar Port is the first privatized port in India under the Modi government’s neoliberal economic policies to move port management of all Indian ports from state-owned to a corporate, landlord model.

This photo of a pollution response officer collecting samples of the oil spill near Kamarajar Port documents that this was not a minor spill. And likely not the last.

(Photo by Arun Sankar/AFP/Getty Images)