Several studies are underway by different agencies to assess the impact on the fragile ecosystem due to blowout and subsequent fire at the natural gas well of Oil India Limited (OIL) in Upper Assam’s Tinsukia district.
The gas well in Baghjan, located close to the Dibru-Saikhowa National Park (DSNP) and Maguri Motapung wetland, had a blowout – an uncontrolled release of gas and oil on May 27 and it caught fire two weeks later on June 9.
While the blowout had displaced nearly 7,000 local residents, the fire claimed the lives of two OIL firefighters. It also destroyed nearly 30 houses, burned trees and crops in the radius of few hundred metres from the well and also impacted flora and fauna in the national park and the wetland, a prominent bird-watching site.
According to a release issued by OIL on Wednesday, ERM India, a company accredited by National Accreditation Board for Education and Training (NABET), is conducting an environment and ecological survey within the vicinity of Baghjan, including DSNP and Maguri Motapung wetland.
“Preliminary assessment by the Delhi-based The Energy Research Institute (TERI) is in progress at the site for studying air quality and noise-level monitoring around Baghjan,” said the release.The TERI team is also carrying out bioremediation of the sludge accumulated in the area due to the blowout and the subsequent fire.
Bioremediation is the process of introducing microorganisms to consume and break down environmental pollutants to clean a polluted site.Another study is being done by the Council of Science and Industrial Research-North East Institute of Science and Technology (CSIR-NEIST) to find out about the tremors being felt in the area since June 9, when the well caught fire.
Assam Agricultural University did a preliminary assessment on the effect of the blowout on plants and tea gardens in the area.OIL authorities have asked them to conduct a post-fire damage assessment study to ascertain the impact of the fire on trees, crops, tea-gardens, etc; in Baghjan.
The fire at the OIL well continued for the ninth day on Wednesday amid efforts to control it and plug the blowout.Earlier, OIL authorities had stated that it would take about four weeks to complete the process.Protests by local groups blaming OIL for the blowout and fire have affected gas and oil production in the area.
OIL has recorded a production loss of 6,132 metric tonnes (MT) of crude oil and 7.97 million metric standard cubic metres (MMSCM) of natural gas since May 27, when the industrial disaster occurred.