ECONOMYNEXT – Two teams of scientists and experts from the Sri Lankan Marine Environment Protection Authority (MEPA) are currently deployed to assess the environmental damage caused by the fire aboard the Supertanker MT New Diamond officials said.
The Deputy General Manager of MEPA Jagath Gunesekara said one team will examine the ocean area where the burning ship is currently located and another is already examining the coastal areas in the island’s eastern seaboard for signs of pollution.
The team at the site of the ship is led by Ecologist Dr Terney Pradeep Kumara, who is also the General Manager of MEPA. Scientists from several Universities and the National Aquatic Research and Development Agency are also part of the team.
“The ten-person team was due to reach the New Diamond early this morning,” Gunesekara said.
They sailed from Hambantota in the early hours today, he said.
“They will assess whether there are any leaks in the vessel which is sending oil into the sea,” he added.
The teams on the beaches will “collect samples and also interview people living in the coastal villages and fisherfolk,” he said.
“They will be looking for any signs of oil being washed ashore,” he said.
The environmental impact assessment was ordered by the country’s Attorney General Dappula de Livera after a meeting held on Sunday which was attended by Sri Lanka’s Navy Chief Vice Admiral Nishantha Ulugetenne, the MEPA Chair Darshani Lahandapura and the Chairman Ports Authority Daya Ratnayake.
Meanwhile, the Sri Lanka Navy is reporting that the fire that re-ignited on board the Supertanker MT New Diamond last evening is under better control.
The Navy spokesman Captain Indika de Silva said that the fire was still burning but the fire-fighting team has better control of the blaze.
The re-ignition of the fire occurred on the “right side of the vessel near the funnel at the rear,” de Silva said.
The blaze is not near the large tanks carrying some quarter of a million tonnes of crude oil, he said.
All members of the salvage team have arrived at the scene as more boundary cooling efforts are being done, he said.
He said that “additional assets, salvage personnel and firefighting equipment is on the way.”
Several tugboats surrounding the Very Large Crude Carrier (VLCC) are keeping it approximately 30 Nautical Miles which is around 58 km east of Sangaman point, Sri Lanka’s easternmost place which is in the Ampara district. (Colombo September 8, 2020)