Written by Zulfick Farzan
04 Sep, 2020 | 7:37 pm
Colombo (News 1st); If an oil spill takes place following any failed attempt to douse the fire aboard the MT New Diamond, it would result in the worst environmental disasters to take place in the world, warned Dharshani Lahandapura, the Chairperson of the Marine Environment Protection Authority.
She further said, if an oil spill takes place it will be considered as a Criminal Incident and at present, MEPA had sought advice from the Attorney General’s Department with regard to the process of claim compensation from the respective ship owners, shipping company, the insurance company, and other responsible parties.
“We filed a complaint with the Thirukkovil Police as the first step in the legal process,” said the MEPA Chairperson.
Speaking to reporters on Friday (04) at the Department of Government Information the MEPA Chairperson said the situation surrounding the MT New Diamond Crude Oil Tanker was divided into two sections.
The first is to contain & douse the fire aboard the vessel which is currently 22 nautical miles away from the Sri Lanka shore and then tow it out of Sri Lanka’s maritime boundary, said Dharshani Lahandapura.
The second is to have a plan in place to face any worst-case scenario in the event an oil spill takes place, and this plan was prepared with multiple local agencies including the military and the Disaster Management Centre, said the MEPA Chairperson.
She said Sri Lanka has minimal resources when it comes to combating an oil spill and therefore had made requests for assistance from countries in the South Asian Region, which received a positive response.
Further oil spill containment booms owned by other Sri Lankan agencies have been placed in Kirinda, Hambantota, and Trincomalee to face any worst-case scenario.
Sri Lanka Navy, Sri Lanka Air Force, Sri Lanka Ports Authority, the Indian Navy, and the Indian Coast Guard are currently engaged in a joint effort to control the fire raging in the oil tanker, MT New Diamond caused by an explosion.
The Indian Coast Guard Ship (ICGS) ‘Sarang’ arrived for disaster relief missions, to the sea area where the ill-fated oil tanker is located.
Moreover, a special tug called TTT One which is equipped with dedicated firefighting equipment, professionals and is capable of undertaking firefighting operations at sea is scheduled to reach the scene with another Indian Coast Guard Ship on Friday (04) evening.
Further, considering these turn of events as an urgent matter of national importance, the Sri Lanka Ports Authority, Hambantota International Port Group, Colombo Dockyard Limited, Ceylon Petroleum Corporation, and Indian Oil Corporation has provided AFFF fire extinguishing chemicals which are being transferred by Sri Lanka Coast Guard Ship ‘Samudraraksha’, ‘Samaraksha’ and the Sri Lanka Navy Ship ‘Samudura’ from the ports of the Hambantota, Colombo, and Trincomalee respectively, to augment the dousing operation.
At present, SLN ships and craft together with the MI 17 helicopter and beach craft of Sri Lanka Air Force, the two tugs ‘Rawana’ and ‘Wasamba’ of Hambantota International Port Group and ALP ‘Winger’ tug made ready by the foreign company that owns the ship in distress are also continuing their firefighting missions to get the tense situation under control.
It is in this backdrop, arrangements have also been made to tow the MT New Diamond to the deep sea at any moment, as soon as the fire onboard gets under control.
The distressed vessel lies about 22 nautical miles (35 kilometers) off the coast as of now.
Sri Lankan authorities on Friday (Sep 04) revealed ‘MT New Diamond’ crude oil tanker which is a 330-metre (1,080-foot) vessel is owned by Liberia-based Porto Emporios Shipping Inc.
The Panamanian-registered vessel, which began burning on Thursday, is carrying about 270,000 tonnes of crude oil.
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