ECONOMYNEXT – Lawyers representing the stricken MT New Diamond crude oil tanker have agreed to settle the initial claim made by the government of Sri Lanka with regard to the control of the fire onboard the ship, officials said.
Officials at the Marine Environment Protection Authority (MEPA) confirmed that the claim of Rs 340 million for the “initial upfront costs of dousing the fire and handling of the ship and rescue efforts” had been agreed upon.
The MT New Diamond, a Very Large Crude Carrier with 270,000 tons of crude oil on board caught fire off the coast of Sri Lanka on September 3, threatening the Eastern and South-Eastern coast of the island with a potentially disastrous oil spill.
The Sri Lanka Navy and Coastguard along with the Indian Coastguard as well as the Sri Lanka Air Force fought the fire for a period of nearly ten days.
One sailor on board perished in the fire and an injured crew member was brought to shore by the Navy and hospitalized.
MEPA sources said that “this is an initial claim as we have filed claims for environmental damage and other issues according to maritime law. There will be other claims to follow,” these sources said.
Although no oil leaked from the large crude oil tanks a considerable quantity of oil from the bunker oil storage of the ship, a high-viscosity diesel, did leak and MEPA and scientists from the National Aquatic Research Authority (NARA) have been monitoring the spill.
The Attorney General has also instructed the Criminal Investigation Department to charge the Captain of the Panama Registered ship with criminal action, the spokeswoman for the AG’s department Nishara Jayaratne said.
The ship was on its way to the port of Paradip in India from Kuwait when a fire, apparently in the Galley spread to the Engine room.
The fatality occurred when a boiler in the Engine room exploded, Sri Lanka Navy said, forcing the evacuation of the vessel. (Colombo, September 24, 2020)
Reported by Arjuna Ranawana