The captain of an Indian supertanker accused of causing an accident six days ago in which some 3.9 million gallons of crude oil spilled into the Red Sea will not be allowed to sail for Bombay until someone guarantees to pay for cleanup expenses, maritime sources said Monday.
"The skipper has been ordered to stay put until the question of who pays for the damage is settled," said a source in the Saudi Arabian port of Jeddah, where part of the 50 mile-long oil slick has already begun to wash ashore.The master of the 276,744-ton tanker Kanchenjunga said his vessel ran aground Wednesday on reefs some 6 nautical miles from the Yanbu terminal near Jeddah because of poor visibility.
But officials at the Jeddah Port Authority said Capt. S. Bagchi went off course in good weather after using an outdated map and an unauthorized route.
First estimates placed the spill from the Bombay-bound fully laden tanker at some 5,000 tons, or 1.3 million gallons. But later updates said the spill had grown to some 15,000 tons, or 3.9 million gallons.
In the United States' worst oil spill, 10.9 million gallons of oil poured from the Exxon Valdez supertanker in Alaska's Prince William Sound last month, causing severe environmental damage to the rich sealife.
Maritime sources said oil from the Kanchenjunga had already hit the beaches of the cosmopolitan Red Sea resort of Jeddah.
The Jeddah Port Authority has tried to place rubber booms in the water between the oil and the coast, "but while that's keeping most of the oil away for the moment, some of it is getting through here and there," one source said.