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Sri Lanka's marine life affected by New Diamond oil spill

Sri Lanka’s marine life has been affected due to a fuel leakage from the 'MT New Diamond' oil tanker that caught fire in local territorial waters, officials said on Saturday.

"A fuel leakage about 2 centimetres thick had been detected," Dharshani Lahandapura, the chair for the Marine Environmental Protection Authority (MEPA) said.

She pointed out that experts had observed turtles, fishes and penguins in the sea area in which the oil had leaked from the oil tanker.

The ‘MT New Diamond’, which caught fire, is currently 45 nautical miles off the Eastern coast of Sri Lanka, the Sri Lanka Navy said adding that the ship is safely anchored in the deep sea using tug boats.

Meanwhile, a team of Criminal Investigation Department (CID) officers has been deployed to obtain a statement from the captain and crew of ‘MT New Diamond’. A senior CID official stated that the relevant team of officers left for Galle yesterday (12).

Colombo Chief Magistrate Lanka Jayaratne recently ordered the CID to conduct an investigation into the fire of the ‘MT New Diamond’.

Meanwhile, merchant shipping specialists have pointed out that Sri Lanka faces the risk of receiving compensation due to the involvement of salvage companies.

“If they (salvage companies) tow the vessel further away and claim money for that, they will receive it,” Capt. Isharaka Perera, a merchant shipping specialist said.

He added that Sri Lanka had lost an opportunity to receive compensation when 12 vessels had sunk in the Kankesanturai area after a US company had intervened.

The Marine Environmental Protection Authority (MEPA) has held discussions on the future course of action regarding ‘MT New Diamond’ which caught on fire in Sri Lankan waters. Director-General of MEPA, Dr. Turney Pradeep Kumara said that a final decision regarding the ill-fated oil tanker would be taken soon after concluding discussions with all parties involved in the firefighting.

MEPA says that there is no risk in the oil tanker being brought ashore as it has been confirmed that there will be no damage caused by the ship.

Dr. Turney Pradeep Kumara says that further action regarding the tanker will be taken after the relevant conditions are fully ascertained.

Further, measures are being taken to cover the expenses incurred to Sri Lanka in the fire fighting activities of the tanker, said MEPA Director-General.

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