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Super tanker fire: Damage caused to marine environment estimated at Rs 4 billion

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By Ifham Nizam

In addition to Rs. 340 million sought by the Sri Lankan government for operations undertaken by its Air Force and Navy to prevent a far greater marine catastrophe, the country will seek an estimated Rs. 4 billion for the damages caused to the marine environment.  

The Insurance Company or the owners of the New Diamond Crude Oil Tanker have to pay some Rs. 4 billion as damages caused to the environment, a senior official of the Marine Environment Protection Authority (MEPA) yesterday said.

MEPA General Manager, Dr. Terney Pradeep Kumara told The Island that the process would take between one and two weeks.

He said that ship owners/insurer also had to pay Rs. 15 million for concealing information about environmental damage.

He said that Attorney General Dappula de Livera had submitted an interim claim of Rs. 340 Million to the counsel representing the owners of the stricken super tanker MT New Diamond.

According to MEPA Chairperson Darshani Lahandapura, the incident had affected marine life in Sri Lankan waters.

Laboratory tests proved there was an oil leak into the ocean, in addition to observation reports, said the MEPA Chief adding the team of experts reported the area in which the incident took place is home to turtles, Manta Rays as well as Dolphins.

“Preparing the Environment Impact Assessment report is a complex task,” said Lahandapura, noting dead marine life could possibly reach the shores of other nations.

The Government Analyst’s Department report confirmed that the oil which leaked into the ocean was the fuel used by the Crude Oil Tanker to power its engines.

According to State Counsel Nishara Jayaratne, the Coordinating Officer to the Attorney General the documented claim for costs incurred by Sri Lanka Navy, Air Force, Ports Authority, Colombo Dockyard PLC, Marine Environment Protection Authority (MEPA) & Coast Conservation Department in providing assistance to douse and contain the fire as well as for related matters had been submitted to the MT New Diamond lawyers.

Rs. 340 Million was estimated as the expenses incurred until the 15th of September, said State Counsel Jayaratne.

The MT New Diamond tanker was transporting 270,000 metric tonnes of crude oil from the port of Meena Al Ahmadi in Kuwait to the Port of Paradip in India when a fire broke out in its engine room, killing a crew member and causing serious burn injuries to its engineer in the eastern seas of Sri Lanka on September 3, 2020.

The ship was sailing 38 nautical miles off Sangamankanda Point, Ampara when it caught fire with an explosion in a boiler in the ship’s main engine room.

The distressed oil tanker in eastern seas was manned by 23 crew members including five Greeks and 18 Philippine nationals.

It was also reported that 1,700 metric tonnes of diesel/furnace oil required for the use of the tanker were also stored onboard.

MT New Diamond is a 20-year old crude oil tanker that is 333 metres long and 60 metres wide, and sailed with a Japanese certificate. It is registered in Panama.



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SL gets Rs 452 mn for saving ill-fated tanker: Rs. 3.4 bn asked for

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By Ifham Nizam and Rathindra Kuruwita

The Marine Enviro-nment Protection Authority (MEPA) yesterday received Rs. 452 million from London for having saved MT New Diamond, a super oil tanker that caught fire in the Sri Lanka’s territorial waters last year.

MEPA General Manager, Dr. P. B. Terney Pradeep Kumara told The Island that Rs. 442 million had come for the services rendered by the Sri Lanka Navy, MEPA and Rs. 10 million by way of a fine imposed on the Ship’s Captain.

However, Sri Lanka has to receive a much larger amount for the damage caused to the marine environment, Dr. Kumara said. Following the incident, Sri Lankan authorities filed charges against the Captain of the ill-fated vessel and made a claim for $2.4 million from the ship’s owners for the firefighting and pollution prevention efforts.

Twenty experts from the Universities of Moratuwa, Ruhuna and Sri Jayewardenepura submitted their recommendations as regards the damage to the environment, to the Attorney General. Based on the report, the Attorney General’s Department had asked for Rs. 3.4 billion (around USD 19 million) as compensation for environmental damage, the Coordinating Officer for the Attorney General, state counsel Nishara Jayaratne said.

Soon they would have discussions with the lawyers of the shipping agent concerned on compensation for environmental damage caused, she said.

Dr. Kumara, who is the former Head of the Department of Oceanography/Marine Geology of the Ruhuna University, said that the incident had caused deaths among marine species due to spillage of some toxic fuel from the vessel.

The MT New Diamond crude oil tanker was transporting 270,000 MT oil from the port of Meena Al Ahmadi in Kuwait to the Port of Paradip in India when a fire broke out in its engine room as the vessel was passing the eastern seas of Sri Lanka on September 3, 2020.

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PSC on gender equality meets for the first time

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State Minister, Fernandopulle flanked by two other PSC members

Special attention on microfinance

The Parliamentary Select Committee appointed to further gender equality, to investigate instances of discrimination against women and to present recommendations to Parliament, focused on microfinance loans that are currently affecting a large number of women in Sri Lanka, when they met for the first time in Parliament recently.

The meeting was chaired by the State Minister of Primary Health Care, Epidemics and COVID-19 Disease Control Dr. Sudarshini Fernandopulle.

It was also revealed that the Cabinet had approved the re-establishment of an institution to regulate Microfinance loans in Sri Lanka.

The MPs also discussed the role of the Select Committee. They decided that the primary role of the Committee should be to investigate women’s grievances and all forms of discrimination based on gender, including workplace violence.

Another task before this committee is to examine and review laws that can be used to enhance gender equality, encourage relevant ministries and authorities to formulate plans to further gender equality and to allocate financial resources.

The Committee will also try to encourage greater women’s representation in decision-making bodies at the national and provincial levels as well as in government, civil society and the private sector.

MPs Rohini Kaviratne, (Dr.) Harini Amarasuriya, M. Udayakumar, S. Sritharan, Rohana Bandara and the Secretary to the Committee, Deputy Secretary General and Chief of Staff of the Parliament Kushani Rohanadheera were also present at the meeting.

 

 

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A/L Examination from October 04 to 30

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The 2021 GCE Advanced Level examination would be held from October 4 to 30, Education Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris said yesterday addressing the media at his Ministry.

Minister Peiris said the examination was earlier scheduled to be held in August.

The Grade 5 scholarship examination would be held on October 03 and the 2021 GCE Ordinary Level (O/L) examination in the last week of January 2022, the Minister said.

“Usually, schools are open for academic activities for around 200 days a year. But in 2020, schools were open for about 150 days. It was around 130 days in the Western Province. We were not able to fill this gap with online classes due to lack of internet facilities in many parts of the country,” he said.

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