Massive Oil Spill Threatens Bangladesh’s Sundarbans

Call to close Sundarbans river route

An oil tanker carrying 358,000 liters (almost 100,000 gallons) of furnace oil sank in the Shela river on December 7, spilling oil over more than 60 kilometers (about 37 miles) of the Sundarbans. Located on in southwest Bangladesh, the Sundarbans is the largest single block of tidal mangrove forest in the world, covering approximately 10,000 square kilometers (3,900 square miles), of which 60 percent is in Bangladesh. The Sundarbans, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is also one of the largest reserves for the Bengal tiger, and provides sanctuary to many other species.

According to reports, the new oil spill threatens the Mrigmari-Nondabala-Andharmanik dolphin sanctuary. Mangrove trees are also highly susceptible to oil pollution—indeed, they are expected to start dying after the area’s aquatic life, which is typically first to perish. Fahim Hassan has put together an infographic on Flickr explaining the details of the devastation.

According to images Mowgliz Elisabeth Rubaiyat posted on Facebook, the disaster is already killing some animals. Local authorities appear to be outside their depth, never before having confronted so large an oil spill, and lacking the necessary infrastructure to respond properly. Al Jazeera reports several local fishermen have resorted to cleaning up the spill using sponges and sacks.

To help in the relief effort, the government dispatched a ship to the area carrying oil dispersants. If such chemicals are released incorrectly, however, it can harm the local ecology still further. Four days later, the state’s efforts seem to have had little effect, exacerbating fears of a lasting ecological disaster.

Click HERE to read more about closing shipping routes through the Sundarbarns and to VOTE 

Read more of the article HERE and to see videos and images before and after the disaster

from globalvoicesonline.org