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Sri Lanka counting the costs of dealing with burning Supertanker

COUNTING THE COST – Sri Lanka is trying to estimate how much the New Diamond crisis cost the nation/SLAF photo

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka is in the process of estimating the financial and environmental cost of the crisis created by the fire on board the Supertanker MT New Diamond, officials said.

The Spokesperson for the Attorney General’s Department Nishara Jayaratna in a statement issued today Sunday, Sept 6, said that AG Dappula de Livera had had a three-hour-long meeting with the Navy Commander, the Chairman of the Ports Authority, Head of the Marine Environment Protection Agency (MEPA) and others do discuss the issues surrounding the crisis.

During the discussion, de Livera instructed the officials to gather information to estimate the total cost incurred by Sri Lanka to deal with the fire on board the Very Large Crude Carrier (VLCC) which has some 2.7 million tons of oil on board.

He instructed MEPA to go to the site when the ship is now and investigate whether there has been environmental damage caused by the ship due to oil leakage.

He said that all foreigners who were being flown into the country to deal with the crisis must follow Covid prevention guidelines.

He also called for an estimation of the damage caused to the environment to be prepared.

Meanwhile, the Navy stated that the fire onboard the New Diamond is now out.

The abandoned ship was towed to a position 70 kilometres away from the coast of Sri Lanka after it began drifting towards the eastern coast of the island on Thursday

As of Sunday morning, there was no oil spill, the Navy said.

The 299,000 deadweight tonne tanker caught fire off the coast of Sri Lanka while transporting crude oil from Kuwait to India.

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Twenty crew members are now on board the Sri Lanka Navy ship Sindurala. Arrangements are being made for them to talk to family members, the Navy said.

At least one crew member is presumed dead and one is being treated in hospital.

(Colombo September 6, 2020)

Reported by Arjuna Ranawana

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  1. The law of salvage is a principle of Maritime Law whereby any person who helps recover another person’s ship or cargo in peril at sea is entitled to a reward commensurate with the value of the property salved. Maritime law is inherently international, and although salvage laws vary from one country to another, generally there are established conditions to be met to allow a claim of salvage. The law of salvage is the result of the Latin negotiorum gestio concept. In the circumstances of the “SALVAGING” the Super Oil Tanker MT. New Diamond off the coast of Ampara in the Eastern Province, Sri Lanka is fully qualified to make this legitimate claim.

    Sri Lanka should make the best of this great achievement in maritime history where the Sri Lankan authorities (Government, Sri Lankan Navy, Air Force and the Ports Authority ) took control of dosing the fire under tremendous stress and averted a great world disaster to maritime environment in the Indian Ocean, which was expressed by Dharshani Lahandapura, the chair of Sri Lanka’s Marine Environmental Protection Authority (MEPA), that an oil spill from the ship would be “one of the biggest environmental disasters not only in the region but in the world”.

    Dosing this fire and bringing it under control, as it is now by the Sri Lankan team is being praised by many developed nations in the region. It is only correct that Sri Lanka which has the “FIRST CALL” on the salvage of this Oil Tanker MT New Diamond owned by Liberia-based Porto Emporios Shipping Inc., for being the first “VOLUNTEER” to go to it’s rescue, in accordance with “The International Convention On Salvage, IMO 1989”, should pursue a course of action deemed proper to buy the 2700 MT of the crude oil and the 1700 MT of diesel in the tanker, once it is fully salvaged and anchored in a safe point. The ship was chartered for the voyage by the Indian Oil Corporation which will try to claim the crude oil and the diesel without giving an option to Sri Lanka to buy the salvage cargo.

    With the ongoing new developments of this crisis and the intervention of International players and high profile business and technical experts arriving in Sri Lanka and moving to the disaster zone where the Oil tanker is floating, held by a tugboat, many proposition are being suggested to make sure that there will “NOT” be further losses to the owners of the vessel, even at the cost of great loss to Sri Lanka and our eastern coastal environment threatened by oil spills. Because Sri Lanka has never experienced such a disaster in the past and Sri Lankan officials have not much “ON-THE-JOB TRAINING” in this area, they can be “DUPED” by these so-called international experts to agree to terms and conditions of the “Salvage” claims “DETRIMENTAL” to Sri Lanka’s benefits of “GAINS”. Therefore Sri Lankan Officials should move forward in this matter very cautiously and carefully to get the maximum benefits for our “MAATHRUBOOMIYA”. This does not undermine the ability and capabilities of our officials, but only just to ring a bell of warning.

    Immediately the fire was announced and the Sri Lankan Navy, Air Force and the Ports Authority took control of dosing the fire under tremendous stress, while the Indian coast guard, the 2 Russian ships docked at the Hambantota habour joined and later a tug boat hired by the owners came into the scene, the undersigned with farsighted thought made comments in this medium that the the Government of Sri Lanka and or it’s authorities responsible for this should register the “claim of salvage” immediately with the owners of the Oil tanker. This was because The Sri Lankan government (Navy, Air Force and the Ports Authority) were incurring a lot of expenses and engagement of manpower resources to save this great valuable oil tanker and the crude oil in it from a great environmental disaster as was stated by the Sri Lanka Navy on Sept. 4th, 2020.
    Noor Nizam – Peace and Political Activist, Political Communication Researcher & SLFP/SLPP Stalwart.

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