AG indicts New Diamond Captain | Sunday Observer

AG indicts New Diamond Captain

11 October, 2020

In a new turn of events, Attorney General, Dappula De Livera filed an indictment against the Captain of the crude oil tanker MT New Diamond this week.

Coordinating officer to the AG, State Counsel Nishara Jayaratne told media that the indictments filed at the Colombo High Court was for the oil spill and the failure by the Captain to report it. This violated section 26 and 38 of the Marine Environment Protection Authority (MEPA) Act, she said. The ship’s captain was banned from leaving the country in September.

The owners of the MT New Diamond earlier agreed to pay Rs. 442 million to Sri Lanka to cover the expenses incurred in controlling the fire which erupted onboard on September 3 ,when it was sailing 38 miles off Sangamankanda Point, East of Sri Lanka.

The AG first submitted a claim of Rs. 340 million on September 16 and later increased it to Rs. 442 million on September 24. The amount is to be paid to stakeholders including the Sri Lanka Navy, Sri Lanka Ports Authority, Sri Lanka Air Force, MEPA, and Sri Lanka Coast Guard.

The attempts made by the stakeholders was made tougher due to high winds and extreme temperatures on the ship. A second fire broke out on the ship days after the first fire was extinguished. Environment authorities were concerned of the possible spill of nearly 270,000 tonnes of crude oil into the sea.

Sri Lanka Navy spokesperson Indika de Silva told media that during this time a team of Naval officers joined experts from India’s coastguard and specialists who arrived in the country at the bidding of the owners of the ship to assess the situation on the ill-fated ship.

Navy spokesperson Silva said the fire ignited in an engine room boiler, and continued to burn for days.

The crude oil tanker was transporting crude oil from the port of Mina Al Ahmadi in Kuwait to the Indian port of Paradip.

The state-owned Indian Oil Corp has a refinery in Paradip where the ship was headed.

It sails with a Japanese certificate and is registered in Panama.

Later, an oil patch, subsequently identified as heavy fuel oil, was observed for over two nautical miles from the ship. A Dornier aircraft of the Indian Coast Guard was flown to the site to airdrop diesel dispersant to minimise the potential impact to the marine environment, Silva said. Twenty-two crew members, including an injured crewman, who were on board were rescued and initially taken to the port city in Galle.