Saturday, 17 February 2024 08:17

Sri Lanka busts oil spill using satellite surveillance for first time Featured

Following the initiative with the French government to detect oil spills in Sri Lankan waters using satellite surveillance, Sri Lanka has detected the first such incident and fined Rs. 15 million to the responsible company, the Marine Environment Protection Authority (MEPA) said.

According to the MEPA, on February 5, the CLS analysts (The French Company) reported the detection of significant oil pollution off their coasts, by an illegal discharge of the Global Crest, a 120-metre tanker cruising from Malaysia to the UAE.

Action was taken immediately against the vessel and an onboard inspection was conducted, which revealed clear evidence of the illegal discharge. The ship was detained until the owner admitted the offence and acknowledged the maximum fine of Rs. 15 million pursuant to national regulations.

Lying at the southern tip of the Indian subcontinent, Sri Lanka is strategically located to become a key stage along the main Indian Ocean shipping routes. However, it is exposed to the increasing risk of pollution from both accidental spills and illegal discharges.

In the frame of the OSDS initiative funded by the French Government, Sri Lanka recently entrusted CLS with the delivery of a service to detect oil pollution and identify polluters from space. This proven detection system has already been successfully deployed in other regions around the world, like in Europe, where the Cleanseanet service operated by the European Maritime Safety Authority (EMSA) has had a clear deterrent effect, halving the number of pollution incidents detected in European waters in 10 years.

Since September 2023, CLS has been delivering more than 100 detection reports to MEPA with the aim of demonstrating the effectiveness of satellite technologies in reducing marine pollution and mitigating their environmental impact.

This case is considered a real success by the OSDS stakeholders, proving the relevance and efficiency of the initiative. It paves the way towards developing a sovereign, fully operational local capability to meet the challenges that lie ahead.


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