News ID: 273900
Published: 0809 GMT September 08, 2020

Sri Lanka assessing environment damage from oil tanker fire

Sri Lanka assessing environment damage from oil tanker fire
Sri Lankan Air Force via AP

This Thursday, Sept.3, 2020 photo released by Sri Lankan Air Force shows smoke rising after a fire broke out on a Panama-registered oil tanker about 38 nautical miles (70 kilometers) east of Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka’s government is sending scientists to determine whether a three-day fire on a giant oil tanker off its coast damaged the marine environment, an official said, AP reported.

A new fire erupted Monday on the fully loaded oil tanker, due to extreme temperatures and high winds, the Sri Lanka Navy said on Monday, days after the tanker first caught fire.

The Sri Lanka Navy had just issued a previous release saying that the fire on board the MT New Diamond oil tanker had been completely extinguished, reported.

Ships and helicopters from Sri Lanka and neighboring India had extinguished the fire on the MT New Diamond – carrying nearly two million barrels of crude oil – on Sunday. The fire killed one Filipino crew member and injured another.

The general manager of Sri Lanka’s Marine Environment Protection Authority, Terney Pradeep, said the scientists from state agencies and universities will prepare a risk assessment, including the potential for an oil leak. The authority has said it plans to take legal action over the fire.

On Sunday, Attorney General Dappula de Livera directed officials to prepare cost and environmental damage assessments.

With its engines shut down, the tanker drifted to within 20 nautical miles (37 kilometers) of Sri Lanka’s eastern coast on Friday before a tugboat towed it farther out to sea.

Meanwhile, ten British and Dutch professionals, including rescue operation specialists, disaster evaluators and legal consultants, reached the scene and were waiting to board the tanker to begin the mission of salvaging the ship. The experts were sent by New Shipping Ltd., the commercial owner of the New Diamond in Athens, Greece, the navy said.

The fire began in an engine room boiler but did not spread to the tanker’s oil storage area and no leak has been reported, the navy said Monday. Sri Lankan officials had warned of possible massive environmental damage if the ship leaks or explodes.

The tanker had 23 crew members – 18 Filipinos and five Greeks. Twenty-one crew members left the tanker uninjured as the fire burned.

The tanker was transporting crude oil from the port of Mina Al Ahmadi in Kuwait to the Indian port of Paradip, where the state-owned Indian Oil Corp. has a refinery.




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