The Coast Guard says it will take at least three days to remove the oil from the sea.
An oil spill along the coastline at Ennore, outside Chennai, is polluting several beaches, including the iconic Marina, after two ships collided at Ennore port's anchorage on Saturday. The damage appears extensive as the slick has already polluted many beaches about 25 kilometres away.
The Coast Guard's Pollution Response Force - along with pollution control bard, fire and rescue officials - have launched a mopping operation using submersible pumps. However, the spill has already started affecting local livelihood and aquaculture.
Fishermen in Ennore are unable to go fishing. "The net does not get into the water as the oil floats on the surface. How do we catch fish," rues one such fisherman, Ranjith.
Near Marina beach, Latha's fish outlet did not see many takers. Due to the spill, consumers are worried about the quality of fish.
"Those who know us, buy from us with confidence. But we cannot say the same about others. They are afraid. They ask and we try to explain," she says.
There have also been reports of many turtles dying.
Sujirtha Titus, an environmental academician, says, "Lots of species are going to die. We have, so far, seen only one-fourth of the total estimated species. The damage would also be going vertically down, affecting our coastal fish eco-system."
The captains of the two ships have been issued notices for negligence and officials say it would take at least three days to remove the oil from the sea. The Coast Guard says the spill - around 200 litres - is limited to 1,500 square metres.