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Tags Current Affairs

Tarballs on Mumbai beaches

Date: 17 September 2021 Tags: Miscellaneous


Many popular beaches of Mumbai have been covered in sticky tarballs that gave off a foul fuel smell. The BMC has managed to clear 20,000 kg of the tarballs.



Beaches like Juhu and Versova have witnessed these incidents apart from Cuffe Parade shoreline in South Mumbai.



  • Tarballs are sticky and dark-coloured balls of oil that are formed when crude oil floats on the surface of oceans.

  • Weathering events related to crude oil make these balls. They are transported to the shore due to the actions of sea waves and currents.

  • Most of the tarballs are small globular size but over the years they have grown to the size of basketballs weighing about 6-7 kg.

  • The BMC has managed to clear majority of tarballs but have complained that they are difficult to be removed as they stick to the equipments.


Formations of tarballs

The oil slick is torn into smaller patches through the actions of winds and waves. They are scattered over larger area and acted upon by chemical and biological process to form the tarballs.


Occurrence during monsoons

  • Tarballs originate from heavy crude oil spilled by deep sea vessels. The crude oil is then pushed towards the shore due to the actions of winds and waves that are at the peak during monsoons.

  • This is the reason why crude oil spilt in the ocean in Arabian Sea is pushed towards the western coast of India during the monsoons.


The control

  • The municipal authorities say that the tarballs come from crude oil spilt at high seas where they have no jurisdiction.  They do not propose any solution.

  • The samples have been collected to find the chemical composition present in them and also to find the source of the oil.

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