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Captain of fuel-leak tanker fined by Sri Lanka court

18 October 2020, MVT 21:15
This handout photograph taken on September 3, 2020, and released by Sri Lanka's Air Force, shows black smoke coming out from the Panamanian-registered crude oil tanker New Diamond, some 60 km off Sri Lanka's eastern coast. (Photo by - / Sri Lankan Air Force / AFP) /
18 October 2020, MVT 21:15

The captain of a fire-damaged supertanker that leaked fuel off the coast of Sri Lanka has been fined 12 million rupees ($65,000) for causing the spill and failing to inform officials of the environmental damage.

The Panamanian-registered New Diamond, travelling from Kuwait to India with 270,000 tonnes of crude oil, was passing by Sri Lanka's east coast when the fire broke out at the start of September.

Firefighters succeeded in putting out the blaze, and the crude remained unaffected but some of the tanker's fuel leaked.

The captain, Steiros Ilias Kardany, pleaded guilty Wednesday to the two counts and was ordered to pay 12 million rupees.

The Chairman of the Marine Environment Protection Agency (MEPA) said carcasses of at least four porpoises and a dozen turtles had washed ashore in the eastern and southern areas of the island after the spill.

"We have taken tissue samples and sent for analysis," Dharshani Lahandapura told AFP. "We suspect that these sea mammals died as a result of the oil spill from the tanker."

State prosecutors told the Colombo High Court Wednesday that about 400 to 480 tonnes of fuel had leaked, causing a spill that stretched 40 kilometres (25 miles).

The vessel was towed to the United Arab Emirates after the owners paid Sri Lanka $2.38 million for putting out the fire.

The blaze started after an engine room boiler exploded, killing one crew member. The remaining crew of 22, including the skipper, were rescued and are currently in Sri Lanka.

The court ordered that he could leave the island after paying the fine.

Colombo, Sri Lanka | AFP

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