Compensation of $1.9 million is also being sought from the owners for assistance given to the vessel since it caught fire and the cost of any environmental clean-up and damage.

This handout photograph taken on September 8, 2020, and released by Sri Lanka's Air Force shows fireboats battling to extinguish a fire on the Panamanian-registered crude oil tanker New Diamond, some 60 km off Sri Lanka's eastern coast where a fire was reported inside the engine room. India on September 8 sent fresh supplies of firefighting chemicals to help battle a new blaze on a stricken tanker loaded with a massive cargo of crude oil off Sri Lanka's eastern coast.
This handout photograph taken on September 8, 2020, and released by Sri Lanka's Air Force shows fireboats battling to extinguish a fire on the Panamanian-registered crude oil tanker New Diamond, some 60 km off Sri Lanka's eastern coast where a fire was reported inside the engine room. India on September 8 sent fresh supplies of firefighting chemicals to help battle a new blaze on a stricken tanker loaded with a massive cargo of crude oil off Sri Lanka's eastern coast. (AFP)

Sri Lanka are filing negligence and pollution charges against the Greek skipper of an oil tanker that leaked fuel off the island nation's coast after a week-long fire.

Some of the 1,700 tonnes of heavy fuel oil aboard the New Diamond poured into the Indian Ocean, prompting a large effort to contain a slick that was roughly two kilometres in length, authorities said on Wednesday.

Its 270,000-tonne cargo of crude oil was unaffected by the fire.

READ MORE: Environmental disaster beckons as fire engulfs oil tanker near Sri Lanka

"There is sufficient evidence to prosecute the skipper under the marine pollution act as well as the penal code for criminal negligence," a spokeswoman for Attorney-General Dappula de Livera told reporters in Colombo.

Much of the slick has been cleaned up and no further fuel has leaked from the vessel since Friday. 

For now, there are no signs of the slick reaching the coast. 

The Panamanian-registered tanker's owners would also be slapped with a $1.88 million fire-fighting bill, de Livera said in a statement.

The vessel is owned by Liberian-registered Porto Emporios Shipping Inc and managed by Greek ship owner, New Shipping Limited, according to the Sri Lankan navy.

READ MORE: Stricken oil tanker pushed away from Sri Lankan coast

Compensation costs

Compensation of $1.9 million is also being sought from the owners for assistance given to the vessel since it caught fire and the cost of any environmental clean-up and damage.

Assistant to Sri Lanka's Attorney General, Nishara Jayaratne, said the cost was for services provided by various departments including the Sri Lankan navy, air force, ports authority and Marine Environment Protection Authority, among others, up until September 15.

Sri Lanka has meanwhile asked the ship's owners to tow the 330-metre tanker beyond its exclusive economic zone, which extends 200 nautical miles (370 kilometres) from its coast.

The nation's environmental authorities fear a marine disaster if the tanker is allowed to transfer its oil to another ship in the country's waters.

The stricken tanker is currently located some 70 nautical miles east off the Sri Lankan coastal town of Batticaloa.

The ship issued a distress signal in early September while en route to the northeast Indian port of Paradip when a boiler exploded killing a Filipino crewman

The vessel's remaining 22 crew, including the captain, were rescued and are in quarantine at a hotel in the southern port city of Galle under the supervision of the navy.

Salvage operations

Navy spokesman Indika de Silva said, "We decided to let the salvage master do his job with no restrictions from us on maintaining distance. There is strong current in the area that pulls ship further away. It's hard to pull it back closer to land due to the heavy current."

De Silva said all Indian vessels engaged in dousing the fire and subsequent activities had left Sri Lanka.

He also said the $1.9 million claim was a preliminary sum, as the Sri Lankan Navy are still engaged in the operation.

New Shipping Ltd has appointed SMIT Singapore Pte Ltd to lead salvage operations.

Salvagers have already vacated the ruptured tank in the engine room and transferred the dirty water into the ballast section.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies