ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka will file legal action against the owners of the New Diamond supertanker that caught fire in the island’s maritime zone on Sept 3, officials said this morning.
Deputy General Manager of the country’s Marine Environment Protection Authority (MEPA) Jagath Gunesekara said action will be filed under Sri Lankan laws protecting the marine ecosystem.
“We are deciding whether to claim criminal liability or civil liability or both,” Gunesekara said.
The decision was taken after a team from MEPA that visited the site of the ship discovered that there was a trail of oil leaking from the aft of the ship.
“We have confirmed that it is Bunker oil and not crude oil,” Gunesekara said.
He denied it was diesel as some of the earlier media statements from the state agencies had said.
“Bunker oil has a higher viscosity,” he said.
Photographs released by the Sri Lanka Air Force this morning showed an oil slick trailing behind the ship which is being towed eastwards further away from the island.
The Indian Coastguard deployed a Dornier aircraft last evening to dump dispersant on the oil patch, the Sri Lanka Navy said.
MEPA is the authority which administers the country’s Marine Pollution Prevention Act.
Gunesekara said that MEPA has been informed that New Shipping Limited has appointed local lawyers as their attorneys in Sri Lanka.
The Dornier is currently based in the Mattala airport.
The Sri Lanka Navy is declaring that the fire onboard the Supertanker MT New Diamond is completely doused and no flames or smoke is emanating from the stricken vessel.
In a statement issued a short while ago, the Navy said the ship is now located 37 Nautical Miles or approximately 69 kilometres away from Sangamankanda point, the eastern-most point on the island.
The towing operation, the statement said “is taking place amid high winds and rough seas.”
On the orders of Navy Commander Vice-Admiral Nishantha Ulugetenne, a team of naval officers who will board the stricken vessel is due to leave Colombo today. These officers, the statement said, are specially trained in disaster management. (Colombo, September 9, 2020)