Pontoon bridge after completion Credit: Rishu Kalantri

Tinsukia: The Indian Army has laid the pontoon bridge over a natural water body near Baghjan well number 5 to assist Oil India Limited (OIL) in the forthcoming operation to cap the well which has been on fire since June 9.

The development came after OIL sought the help of the Army to lay a 140-metre bridge. Within 36 hours of starting the work on Friday, the bridge was ready by Sunday.

A pontoon bridge, also known as a floating bridge, uses floats or shallow-draft boats to support a continuous deck for pedestrian and vehicle travel. The buoyancy of the supports limits the maximum load they can carry. Most pontoon bridges are temporary, used in wartime to ferry troops and movement of tanks and civil emergencies.

Earlier, GOC of 3 Corps Lt Gen Rana Pratap Kalita, accompanied by several senior army officer, visited the blowout well to monitor the situation.

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GOC of 3 Corps Lt Gen Rana Pratap Kalita being briefed by OIL experts at Baghjan

OIL spokesperson Tridiv Hazarika said that the army commander of 3 Corps and his team had a detailed discussion with OIL director (E&D) P Chandrasekaran and other senior officials of OIL and ONGCL. “The bridge, completed by army within the schedule timeline, will play a very crucial role in the forthcoming operation to control the well and douse the fire,” he said.

“The Pontoon bridge is required for two purposes — to lay the water pipeline and displace the existing pipeline from the reservoir to the blowout well and act as an escape route.”

The bridge was moved in a convoy of more than two dozen vehicles which started arriving at the well site on Thursday.

The other preparatory works for the operation for capping of the well, meanwhile, continued on Friday.

Hazarika said that though the rainfall has hampered their work, they have placed two ONGC CMT pumps on the pad close to the fire well. “The second unit of air compressor to start the pump engine has been placed at the site,” he added.

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2 CMT pumps placed near the well site

The testing of pneumatic cellar pump has been done successfully while testing of other equipment moved from ONGCL is underway by the team of global experts at the CMT yard of OIL in Duliajan, he added.

A total of 34 heat shields have been provided to the Army personnel and additional heat shields are being prepared at OIL’s engineering workshop, Hazarika said. “The second round of equipment mobilised from various stations of ONGCL including Vadodara and Rajamundry are in transit,” he said.

“The Energy Resource Institute (TERI) has installed SOx and NOx measurement tools at Baghjan EPS to study air quality and nosie level while installation of other units is underway,” Hazarika said, adding that a joint team of TERI and OIL conducted study on bioremediation of sludge by inspecting land areas and water bodies including Maguri Motapung Beel. “The installation of broadband seismograph and other equipment by CSIR – NEIST has been completed at all 5 stations and collection of data have started to study the tremors in the region,” he said.

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Seismic equipment set up by NEIST experts to record data

The Environment Impact Assessment study team from ERM India visited Dibru Saikhowa National Park and Maguri Motapung Beel.

The OIL has also started cleaning the water bodies by collecting the film of floating oil.

The site of the oil well fire at Baghjan

Hazarika said that the general manager (medical services) of OIL Pranjit Pran Baruah along with a team of doctors visited the relief camps to check the health and hygiene and also distributed mosquito repellent cream to around 9,000 affected villagers.

The fire, meanwhile, continues to rage.

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