The Coordinating Officer to the Attorney General, State Counsel Nishara Jayaratne, said the Marine Environment Protection Authority had informed the Attorney General Dapula de Livera and other relevant authorities that approval permitting the MT New Diamond to leave Sri Lankan waters will only be granted after the negotiations are completed regarding oil pollution damage.
MEPA Chairperson Darshani Lahandapura confirmed that permission was not given to tow-away the crude oil tanker, MT New Diamond. Lawyers representing the shipowners had communicated the agreement to the Attorney General. The owners of MT New Diamond had agreed to settle the full claim of Rs 442 Million earlier made by Sri Lanka.
The Panamanian flagged tanker was carrying 270,000 tonnes of crude and 1,700 tonnes of diesel to Paradip port in India from the port of Mina Al Ahmadi in Kuwait. A fire broke out when the carrier was in the eastern seas of Sri Lanka on 3rd September 2020 at around 8:00 AM. The fire started because of an explosion in a boiler in the ship’s main engine room when it was sailing 38 nautical miles off Sangamankanda Point.
The MT New Diamond was operated by 23 crew members including 5 Greeks and 18 Philippine nationals. One member of the ship’s crew was killed and another seriously injured in the fire. A travel ban was imposed on their captain by the Colombo Magistrate’s Court.
It was also reported that 1700 metric tons of diesel required for the use of the tanker is stored onboard. Later, a panel of MEPA appointed scientists submitted an interim report to the Attorney General and confirmed that there was an oil leak from MT New Diamond resulting in marine pollution.