MEPA to take legal action against supertanker owners | Sunday Observer

MEPA to take legal action against supertanker owners

13 September, 2020

The Marine Environment Protection Authority (MEPA) will take legal action against the owners of the supertanker MT New Diamond which caught fire in Sri Lankan waters on September 3. According to the Deputy General Manager, MEPA, Jagath Gunasekara, the decision was taken after it was found that there was a leak of bunker oil from the ill-fated vessel. The Authority is considering whether to claim criminal liability or civil liability, Gunasekra said. Action will be filed under local laws to protect the marine ecosystem of the country. Greece-based Porto Emporios Shipping Inc has been identified as the registered owner of the 20-year-old Panama-flagged supertanker.

The MT New Diamond is currently stationed 45 nautical miles East of Batticaloa. The fire on board has been fully controlled, the Navy said. However, following an oil slick, on Friday Navy diving teams were deployed to examine the tanker. Two distinct bunker trails were detected on the 20-year-old ship’s aft.

“It was observed that the internal piping system connected to two seawater inlets, 19.3 metres below the water level on the left side and 16 metres below the water level on the right side of the ship, was damaged,” Navy Spokesman Captain Indika De Silva said. “One of the vents was leaking bunker oil from the engine room into the water,” he added. The Navy Media spokesman said that there has been no oil leak into the sea from the ship’s crude oil storage reserves.

Three salvage experts from SMIT Singapore (Pvt) Ltd, an international Singapore-based company, who were appointed by the commercial owner of New Diamond, as its salvage expert had boarded the MT New Diamond for the first time on Wednesday (9) and conducted an onboard assessment. Foreign experts who boarded the ship are expected to present a report of the ship’s current condition to the Navy shortly. The Navy spokesman said that there was no damage to the ship so far.

Attorney General Dappula de Livera has instructed the Marine Environmental Protection Authority to move the ship 200 nautical miles to prevent damage to the coast and the ocean by the fuel spill from the New Diamond, and not to endanger human lives.

The ship is currently being handled by a salvage company appointed by the ship’s owners. Captain Indika De Silva said that the Navy is monitoring the situation.