Sri Lanka to demand further compensation from MT New Diamond

By Indika Sri Aravinda

The Marine Environment Protection Authority (MEPA) has decided to seek further compensation from the crude oil tanker MT New Diamond, which caught fire in the seas off Sri Lanka in September 2020.

MEPA Chairperson, Dharshani Lahandapura told Colombo Gazette that facts will be presented to the Attorney General to seek compensation for damages caused to the environment as a result of the oil leak from the vessel.

The report by an expert committee appointed to estimate the cost of the damages caused to the environment due to the oil leak will be submitted to the Attorney General next week.

The owners of MT New Diamond have already paid a compensation of Rs. 454 million to the Government of Sri Lanka for containing the fire and after the Captain of the vessel pleaded guilty for the incident.

Lahandapura said a further compensation will be sought on behalf of the Government for the damages caused to the environment.

From among the compensation received thus far, Rs. 390 million has been granted to Naval officers and other parties involved in towing the oil tanker, Rs. 45 million to MEPA, and the remaining funds to the Treasury for the expenses incurred as a result of the incident.

The crude oil tanker caught fire following an explosion in its boiler room nearly 38 nautical miles off Sangamankanda Point east on 3rd September 2020.The vessel was transporting crude oil from Kuwait to the Odhisha Port in India.

The Sri Lanka Navy together with the Air Force rescued 22 crew members from the oil tanker, while one Philippine crew member was reported dead.

At the time of the explosion, the vessel was transporting 270,000 metric tonnes of crude oil and 1700 metric tonnes of diesel.

The Marine Environment Protection Authority had later obtained the assistance of other countries and foreign agencies to tow the crude oil tanker away from Sri Lankan waters.

An oil leak had been detected from the vessel while it was being towed away.

A special committee appointed to investigate the oil leak had determined that the coastal environment had sustained damages as a result. (Colombo Gazette)