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EPA halts operations of Byco after oil spill ruins Mubarak Village-Churna Island coastal belt

Updated October 25, 2018

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Tar and oil are wreaking havoc on the entire stretch of coast from Mubarak Village to Churna Island. —Photo provided by author
Tar and oil are wreaking havoc on the entire stretch of coast from Mubarak Village to Churna Island. —Photo provided by author
The spill has turned the popular picnic location known for its blue-green water into a black mess. —Photo provided by author
The spill has turned the popular picnic location known for its blue-green water into a black mess. —Photo provided by author
The EPA officials, who visited the Byco installations, are yet to ascertain the actual cause of the oil spill. —Photo provided by author
The EPA officials, who visited the Byco installations, are yet to ascertain the actual cause of the oil spill. —Photo provided by author

Balochistan's Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Thursday ordered Byco Petroleum Pakistan Limited (BPPL) to halt its single point mooring (SPM) operations after a stretch of the Sindh-Balochistan coastal belt became heavily polluted due to an oil spill reportedly from an underground pipeline.

A notification was issued in this regard by the provincial environment agency to BPPL warning that if SPM operations continue, severe damage would be inflicted on marine life.

Spillage of tar and oil has wreaked havoc on the entire stretch of the coast from Mubarak Village to Churna Island and a strong stench permeates the area, local residents and fishermen told DawnNewsTV.

Issuing a statement in this regard, the Byco spokesperson said, "No leak or loss of containment has taken place from any of our installations."

Moreover, EPA officials who visited the Byco installations, are yet to ascertain the actual cause of the oil spill, the company said.

Earlier in the day, Mubarak Village counsellor Sarfaraz Haroon complained that the spill has turned the popular picnic location known for its blue-green water into a black mess.

He urged the government to take notice of the matter and regretted that the incident was not the first to threaten the local economy, as many such episodes had occurred previously.

"If the government does not take the matter seriously, sea life will be completely destroyed [in the area]," he said, underscoring the need for immediate action.

Haroon said that turtles, dolphins, whales, and other marine organisms were all on borrowed time unless remedial steps were taken.

Local fishermen demanded that the government takes strict disciplinary action against the owners of the company responsible for the spill.

In January this year, the Senate Standing Committee on Maritime Affairs was briefed regarding the rising pollution levels in the sea.

The director general of ports and shipping, Asad Chandna, had told the committee that 450 to 500 million gallons of raw sewage were being discharged daily directly into the sea without any solution in sight to stop the pollution.

Clarification: The suspension of operations was ordered by BEPA for Byco’s Single Point Mooring (SPM) facility.