ECONOMYNEXT – An Indian Coastguard Dornier Aircraft was deployed yesterday Sept 8 to drop diesel dispersant on a patch of diesel discovered about a kilometre away from the stricken Supertanker MT New Diamond, the Sri Lanka Navy said in a statement issued last night.
The Navy said, “it is believed that the diesel that had been stored in ruptured tanks close to the engine room had been mixed with flooded water and oozed out due to the ship’s changing position.”
“This dispersant that was sprayed would change the chemical composition of the diesel mixed with seawater, thereby minimizing the potential impact on the marine environment,” it said.
“However, the crude oil storage of the distressed ship is still safe from the fire and there is no danger of the ship leaking oil into the sea at the moment” it added.
The Navies and Coastguard of Sri Lanka and India have been fighting the fire and keeping the ship from drifting as the crew was forced to abandon ship a day after it caught fire.
The Navy said “the fire resulted by adverse weather on board the MT New Diamond has been successfully controlled to a greater extent by now. Meanwhile, the disaster management teams are making a lot of effort and continuing the mission ahead, using fire extinguishing agents and water.”
The distressed vessel is carrying a quarter of a million tonnes of crude oil and caught fire last Wednesday in Sri Lankan waters.
Sri Lanka’s Marine Environment Protection Agency (MEPA) has been warning of a major disaster if there is an oil spill as it would devastate the island’s east and southeastern coast with massive consequences for the fishing and tourism industries.
Teams of researchers from MEPA and other government agencies are at the site of the ship, some 30 nautical miles east of Sangamankanda point in the east of the island.
Sri Lanka Air Force Beechcraft and Helicopters have been bombing the fire with dry chemical fire retardants as well as using choppers to lift large amounts of water directly on to the fire.
The statement added that 20 members of the crew of the tanker who were isolated safely onboard the Sri Lanka Navy Ship Sindurala were transferred to the eastern port of Hambantota last night.
They are being isolated according to Covid 19 health guidelines and PCR tests were carried out on them, the statement said.
Earlier 19 members of the crew were rescued by the MT Helen M on Sept 3, which was the first ship on the scene responding to a distress signal.
One crew member is missing, presumed dead and another who was injured was flown to shore and admitted to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. (Colombo September 9, 2020)
Reported by Arjuna Ranawana