Written by Zulfick Farzan
02 Jun, 2021 | 7:08 pm
COLOMBO (News 1st); X-Press Feeders, operators of the container ship ‘X-Press Pearl’ has confirmed that the ship’s aft portion is now touching bottom at a depth of 21 meters.
In a statement, X-Press Feeders said that despite salvors successfully boarding the vessel and attaching a tow wire, efforts to move the ship to deeper waters failed.
As of 1500 Sri Lanka time, the foreward area of the vessel remains afloat with smoke coming out of Cargo Holds No 1 and 2, said Andrew Healy, the Director (South East Asia) for MTI PTE LTD.
A specially trained team from the Sri Lanka Navy boarded the vessel on Wednesday (02) morning to facilitate the salvors to tow the container ship.
The Marine Environment Protection Authority (MEPA) on its Facebook page has posted that the MV X-PRESS PEARL has lost its stability at the stern areas due to a water leak.
Thereby, the MEPA warns this could lead to a sudden oil spill, which is expected to extend from the Dickowita area to the Kapungoda area in Negombo.
MEPA Chairperson Attorney-at-Law Darshani Lahandapura speaking to reporters said all necessary measures have been taken to address any possible oil spill from the X-PRESS PEARL adding efforts will be made to minimize damage.
In addition, the Sri Lanka Coast Guard SLCG Samaraksha vessel to the site to control an oil spill, if it occurs.
The National Aquatic Resources Research and Development Agency (NARA) said the pH value in Sri Lankan waters has not changed despite chemical material from the sinking X-PRESS PEARL contaminated the western coast.
NARA Director General Dr. Palitha Kithsiri speaking to News 1st said the Samudrika Ship reached the site on Tuesday (01) night to collect samples from the bottom of the sea.
Sri Lanka’s Environment Minister Mahinda Amaraweera has proposed to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to appoint a special investigative committee to probe the incidents surrounding Sri Lanka’s worst marine environment disaster.
The Minister speaking to News 1st that he proposed to appoint a committee comprising of heads of institutions and university professors.
The Central Environmental Authority is currently leading efforts with other bodies to clear the debris from the ill-fated vessel that had washed up on the shores of 05 districts.
Sri Lanka’s Shipping and Ports Minister Rohitha Abeygunawardena told reporters that the government of Sri Lanka will take all necessary measures to secure compensation from the parties responsible.
“The Harbour Master was constantly monitoring the situation,” he said adding that the position of the vessel has not impacted the movement of vessels in and out of the harbour in any way.
However, environmentalist Dr. Ajantha Perera speaking to News 1st said the Government of Sri Lanka must be held accountable to disclose the cargo in the vessel.
“This is a serious issue and a disaster to the nation,” she said.
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