Written by Pavani Hapuarachchi
26 May, 2021 | 3:08 pm
COLOMBO (News 1st): The debris and freight containers that fell into sea from the distressed MV X-PRESS PEARL vessel have washed ashore at the Negombo beach, the Marine Environment Protection Authority (MEPA) said on Wednesday (May 26).
“The MEPA officials conducted an investigation this morning (May 26) within the area and found that the beach stretching from Wattala to Negombo was contaminated with plastic pebbles. The contamination is very high and the entire area is affected,” Dharshani Lahandapura, the Chairperson of the Marine Environment Protection Authority (MEPA) told News 1st.
These plastic pebbles are raw/ virgin plastic, which is used to manufacture plastic, she added.
Accordingly, the Marine Environment Protection Authority has identified the manpower required for cleaning the stretch of beach and informed the Disaster Management Centre (DMC) for approval to obtain assistance from the Tri-Forces to clean the contaminated beaches.
“Given the current wind patterns, the International Tank Owners Pollution Federation (ITOF) has modeled the possible oil spills and it has indicated that it could reach towards the Negombo Lagoon,” Lahandapura said, adding that the MEPA had kept all the stakeholders on stand by.
As per the advice of the International Tank Owners Pollution Federation (ITOF), the use of any booms (Oil Containment Booms) for oil dispersants will not be of any help given the severe weather pattern, the MEPA Chairperson noted.
“So we CANNOT stop an oil spill within closer proximity to the vessel because of the current weather pattern and the prevailing sea conditions. Therefore, as per the advice of the ITOF, not just in Sri Lanka, but anywhere in the world, it is impossible to curtail an oil spill in close proximity to the vessel given such state of the sea and calamities, wind patterns,” Lahandapura lamented.
Thereby, the only option available to address an oil spill is to conduct a beach clean-up afterward.
“The only option we have is to do a beach cleaning afterward. We have lined up the required manpower and resources. We are closely monitoring the situation to minimize the potential oil spill,” Dharshani Lahandapura, the Chairperson of the Marine Environment Protection Authority (MEPA) pointed out.
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