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Rains, floods pose serious obstacles in firefighting efforts
Ron Duarah

The inundated Baghjan disaster site on Saturday. Photo: Ron Duarah
 DIBRUGARH, July 11 - Sustained rains and flooding of the Baghjan disaster area due to swollen rivers have posed a serious obstacle in the ongoing firefighting endeavours. The delays are also adding to the restiveness of the local population there, and Oil India Limited’s (OIL) management is stuck in a unique Catch 22 situation. Even so, work on preparing the grounds, salvaging the area and getting rid of a huge stockpile of debris is taking place. The debris is basically machine, parts and equipment of the pre-blowout drilling operations.

 On the ground, Environmental Impact Assessment by M/s ERM is continuing, and air quality and noise level monitoring are being undertaken almost round the clock. Officials from the Divisional Forest Officer, Tinsukia Wildlife Division are being consulted for carrying out the ecological damage survey. An OIL press note issued today said onsite environmental monitoring in relation to air, noise, soil, groundwater, surface water, sediment for pre-well capping operation have been completed.

Considering the flooding and inclement weather conditions, ground work are being kept suspended for Saturday and Sunday. It is now re-estimated that the fire dousing and capping exercises should happen as soon as next Tuesday.

This would be possible as all equipment have been placed on site, with the Crisis Management Team now awaiting the final countdown to commence.

Blockade of the EPS facility and at other oil and gas wells in the Baghjan area continues, and has halted drilling and transportation of gas and crude oil from the entire locality. OIL has quantified the cumulative production loss at 10,860 metric tonnes of crude oil and one crore seventy three lakh ninety thousand cubic metres of gas till end of day figures till Friday. These figures are for the Baghjan area oilfield operations alone.

Engineers from the Army are helping the Crisis Management Team in preparing the ground for the final fire fight, as most of the equipment have been submerged due to flooding by the nearby Dangori river. The Army engineers and technicians are helping the crisis warriors to lift the equipment to higher levels from the flood waters.

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