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Sri Lankan navy plugs fuel leak on oil tanker

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New Diamond had caught fire last week.

Sri Lankan military divers fixed a fuel leak from the engine of a fire-damaged oil tanker off the island’s east coast, the navy said on Saturday, in a salvage operation after the huge week-long blaze.

While the navy says no crude oil has escaped the cargo of the New Diamond, leaked diesel fuel had created a 2-km-long slick in the Indian Ocean that was visible from the air.

The fuel was seeping into the water through damaged pipes connected to a ballast water intake on the ship’s starboard side, according to a navy statement.

 

That leak was plugged on Friday along with an inlet on the port side of the Panama-registered tanker, it said.

Dutch salvage company SMIT said its experts had boarded the vessel and found the 2,70,000-tonne crude oil cargo unaffected by the fire. “The cargo tanks with the crude are intact,” the firm told AFP in The Hague on Friday. “Discussions are ongoing on the destination of the vessel to transfer the crude.”

Environmental authorities fear a marine disaster if the tanker is allowed to transfer its oil to another ship in the country’s waters.

The fire was completely doused on Wednesday, but an unspecified amount of the ship’s 1,700 tonnes of fuel leaked when storage tanks ruptured in the blaze that destroyed the engine room.

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