X-Press Pearl disaster: Compensation Could Take Years to Settle
By Sulochana RamiahMohan
Marine experts say investigations into shipwrecks are a long process and the insurance claim from the Xpress Feeders would take years to complete. Even Feeders of the wrecked ship are waiting until the ship sinks completely so that the investigation could begin and the pumping out the vessel’s fuel can take place, if it is intact. According to information, even the last year’s MV Blue Diamond marine pollution compensation claims have not been received by the local authorities.
CEO of Shippers Academy Rohan Masakorale added the investigation is a challenge as it is an underwater probe with numerous skills put in place and every bit of the information is gathered and assessments made without leaving anything unchecked. All this has to be on paper for an insurance claim by the Feeders.
It is then that the insurance company would draw up the final claim paid to Sri Lanka. “It’s a long drawn out process and it has to be handled by professionals of various fields.
From the Sri Lankan side too, they have to assess all the damages due to the shipwreck and prepare the bills for claimants,” Masakorale added. The Attorney General Department’s legal draftsmen and international experts, scientists and experts too will have to be involved in making the right assessment for Sri Lanka without missing anything.
Adding to it, Navy Spokesperson Indika de Silva said collecting details from the wrecked ship is not so easy and assumed that it would take another three weeks for divers to get down there. Assessing of the damage caused to the country’s coastal areas and the ecological system of the country due to the debris and the possible oil leak is a huge exercise.
X-Press Feeders’ CEO Shmuel Yoskovitz when questioned by Channel News Asia TV channel about the cost of the damage they will have to settle to Sri Lanka, admitted that “This is now being assessed but we need to bear in mind that this will be a long process ... first of all, to see when this incident will be over and then to assess the total damages. It is very hard to estimate any cost or damages at the moment.” He added, “But we are insured. The direct financial burden on X-Press (Feeders) will be very limited,” he said.
The situation of the feeder vessel X-Press Pearl remains the same, 9.5 nautical miles off Colombo, at anchorage. It partially sank on 2 June with its aft still visible but that portion is also slowly sinking further said the Navy Spokesman said. He said that divers and salvors have not been engaged at the site yesterday due to adverse weather and murky water. Due to safety considered a priority as the ship is slowly sinking, divers did not engage in work, he added.
Yoskovitz also noted, to assess the real situation, they will need to wait for the wreck to settle on the seabed and then see what really can be done. In the meantime, the Sri Lanka Navy and the Coastguards were assisting the Criminal investigation Department in the probe into the shipwreck. He believed that the next move would to pump out the fuel from the ship and they will have to ascertain whether the oil in the ship is burnt out completely or whether it is intact.
We need to find where the fuel is and also find the Voyage Data Recorder. The search operation would be by the salvors, he added. The Xpress Pearl Feeders also confirmed that the ship is gradually sinking and there is no signs of debris and no reports of fuel oil pollution as of 7am Sri Lanka time yesterday (4).
Yoskovitz further added that his company has enlisted environmental experts, such as the International Tanker Owners Pollution Federation, to monitor the situation. The ship’s aft is sitting on the seabed at a depth of about 21 meters, and the fore section continues to settle down slowly. Salvors remain on scene, supported by the Sri Lankan Navy and the Indian Coast Guard to deal with any possible debris.