Malé, Maldives – The Maldivian Coast Guard has stated that the “Sea Star” fuel boat owned by “Bro Fuels” which caught fire yesterday and later capsized near Enbudhu Finolhu does not threaten an oil spill.
Sea star with 100,000 liters of fuel storage capacity, went down with around 60,000 liters of diesel, and has cost Bro Fuels an estimated MVR 10 million in losses.
In press conference today held by the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) and the Coast Guard, Coast Guard Commander Mohamed Saleem stated that after a fire was reported on the vessel, Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) Fire and Rescue arrived on scene quickly and began efforts to douse the flames. However, the boat sank not long after.
The incident occured 1.5 nautical miles off Enbudhu Finolhu according to Saleem, who noted that due to wind and current conditions, the wreck should be drifting East. He added that the vessel is currently more than 1,000-1,400 meters underwater.
Coast guard plans define an oil spill as an uncontrollable oil leak in an area overseen by the MNDF. Saleem noted that this spill can be easily controlled by relevant Maldivian authorities, but that due to the delicate Maldivian environment, the incident is being closely monitored.
Saleem revealed that the incident area is being monitored even now, and if there is even the slightest observation that the spill is travelling toward an atoll, they are ready to take action. He added that since the incident occured on a usual route taken by the public, an oil spill will be easily identified.
Saleem said that diesel spills pose little threat since the it evaporates into the air on the sea surface. The only danger would be the spill happened on the reef.
Saleem further added that the Japanese government has recently donated equipment that can be used in this situation, clarifying that there is no worrying indicators in the current situation.
EPA Director Mohamed Naeem that they went to the incident area this morning and observed for around 45 minutes, however no signs of an oil spill was seen.
Reiterating Saleem’s statements, Naeem noted that since diesel is a non persistent oil, it evaporates soon after reaching the surface.
The President’s Office has previously stated that they are working with all relevant authorities to minimize possible environmental harm.
This is the third incident of diesel fuel boats sinking into the Maldives sea in recent months.