Abandoned foreign vessel sinks in Sri Lanka

Abandoned foreign vessel sinks in Sri Lanka

August 23, 2012   03:25 pm

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A Cyprus flagged vessel which remained in Sri Lankan waters since 2009 following a court order which prevented it from leaving, sank on Thursday raising concerns of environmental impact.

MV Thermopylae Sierra sank at sea close to the shores of Panadura, just outside the capital, even as the court case over the vessel continued in Sri Lanka.

The 155-meter long and 127-meter wide ship manufactured in 1985 was detained in Sri Lanka on a court order after a dispute involving the cargo and its crew.

Engineers were kept on board the vessel but they withdrew saying they had not been given food or other basic facilities.

The condition of the ship began deteriorating as it remained at sea without being maintained and subsequently it began taking in water.

Engineers onboard the ship had warned that some of the cargo which were still on the ship as it sank could harm marine life in the area. The biggest concern was as the ship sank very close to the shore.

However the Sri Lankan Marine Environment Protection Authority said that most of the oil from the ship had been removed before the vessel sank so they did not expect a major environmental impact.

“There was some 350 tons of oil on the ship but most of it was removed and now there is less than 75 tons on board. A contingency plan is now underway to face whatever environmental impact even that little oil may cause once it begins to surface,” Jagath Gunasekera of the Marine Environment Protection Authority told Xinhua.

He said that after the ship fully sinks the oil will begin to surface but it can be cleaned immediately since it is a small amount.

However he said that based on the wind conditions the oil may drift to other locations so measures need to be taken to address the issue. (Xinhua)

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