June 30, 2008 (LBO) – The Sri Lankan government is considering establishing a fund based on a levy charged from merchant vessels to handle emergencies caused by oil spills, a senior official said. Marine Pollution Prevention Authority (MPPA) chairman Ranjit Kularatne said the potential for oil spills caused by ship accidents is very high given the island’s proximity to the main shipping route across the Indian Ocean.
“The potential for an incident is very high today,” he said. “Oil spills are caused mainly by ships and not only oil tankers.”
He said oil produced in the Arabian Gulf is transported to the economies of east Asia passing the island.
“All these ships pass 5-6 km from Hambantota,” Kularatne told a seminar on ocean resources organised by the Chamber of Construction Industry recently.
Hambantota is at the southern tip of the island where the government is building a port to take advantage of its proximity to the shipping route.
Kularatne said some 300 ships pass round the island daily.
“Some ships are not in the best seaworthy condition. They can meet with an accident especially during rough weather in the monsoon. If they cause an oil spill it will be disas