Diesel patch observed at sea near MT New Diamond

A diesel patch has been observed at sea near MT New Diamond, the ship which caught fire last week, the Sri Lanka Navy said today.

The Navy said that as a result of the concerted efforts of the disaster management teams, the latest fire on the ship which was caused by adverse weather has been successfully controlled to a greater extent.

The Navy said that in a recent development, a diesel patch had been observed in the area about a kilometer away from the ship.

Over the past few days firefighting teams continued to surge sheer volume of sea water to extinguish the fire onboard.

As a result the engine room of the ship was flooded with sea water, making it lying in a position called ‘trim by aft’. In this backdrop, it is believed that the diesel that had been stored in ruptured tanks close to the engine room had been mixed with flooded water and oozed out due to the ship’s changing position.

However, the Navy said the crude oil storage of the distressed ship is still safe from the fire and there is no danger of the ship leaking oil into the sea at the moment.

A Dornier aircraft of the Indian Coast Guard stationed at the Mattala Mahinda Rajapaksa International Airport was flown to the area where the diesel fuel patch was observed this afternoon and a diesel dispersant was airdropped to the sea area to minimize its impact on the ocean.

The dispersant that was sprayed would change the chemical composition of the diesel mixed with sea water, thereby minimizing the potential impact on the marine environment.

Further, a research team made its way to the site of the fire-damaged ship this morning to collect sea water samples, to find out the impact of the fire on the marine environment.

Upon collection of the required samples, the team comprising officials from the National Aquatic Resources Research and Development Agency (NARA), Marine Environment Protection Authority (MEPA) and University of Ruhuna, are on their way back to continue with onward testing. Apart from that, a Marine Research platform of NARA also arrived on the site with a view to obtain more specifics to carry out further investigations.

The distressed oil tanker is now lying about 30 nautical miles off Sangamankanda Point and the disaster management operation is still underway. The operation is augmented by ships, aircraft and tugs rushed to the scene by the Sri Lanka Navy, Sri Lanka Air Force, Indian Navy, Indian Coast Guard and other stakeholders. (Colombo Gazette)