Sri Lanka to make interim claim of $ 40 Mn from X-Press Pearl; 1000 MT debris collected

Sri Lanka to make interim claim of $ 40 Mn from X-Press Pearl; 1000 MT debris collected

Sri Lanka to make interim claim of $ 40 Mn from X-Press Pearl; 1000 MT debris collected

Written by Zulfick Farzan

12 Jun, 2021 | 9:02 pm

COLOMBO (News 1st); Sri Lanka’s Marine Protection Environment Authority has removed approximately 1000 MT of waste from the islands beaches following the disaster on board the X-Press Pearl.

“We are doing a clean up process covering 200 km of beach area,” said Darshani Lahandapura, the Chairperson of the Marine Environment Protection Authority, adding almost 190 km stretch of the coastline has been cleared of debris.

She said MEPA is following a three-step strategy to address the X-Press Pearl disaster.

01. Accelerated & Proper Clean-up
02. Environmentally Responsible Disposal of Waste
03. Restoration as per the damage assessment.

The 1000 MT of collected waste is stored in a yard which has a license for hazardous waste storage, she said the disposal of the waste will be carried out according to the guidelines given by the Central Environment Authority.

Sri Lanka’s State Minister of Ports and Shipping told News 1st that following talks with the Attorney General and the Justice Minister a claim of USD 40 million was made for the damage caused by the X-Press Pearl.

‘This is a preliminary claim and in the future that figure would increase to a much larger amount.” he told reporters.

Sri Lankan authorities will meet on Monday (14) to proceed on the compensation claim, he said.

The X-Press Pearl cargo ship that caught fire off western Sri Lanka has begun to sink, raising alarms over oil and chemical spills that could have potentially devastating impacts on the marine and coastal ecosystem.

The fire broke out on board the Singapore-flagged freighter on 20th May, and took more than a week to get under control.

A salvage crew who boarded the ship for an inspection after the fire found a breach in the stern and recommended that the ship be towed out to deeper waters to minimize any impact.

But the charred and stricken vessel began taking on water quickly; the towing operation had only managed to move it half a kilometer (0.3 miles) before the ship began sinking.

This latest development has sparked fears that the 300 metric tons of fuel oil in the ship’s tanks could leak.

Its rear section has hit the sea bed while the front remains above water as the sea there is shallow, and only about 21 meters (69 feet) deep.

The X-Press Pearl is brand new, having been completed in February this year and commissioned in March.

And while current indications are that its fuel tanks haven’t been breached, the possibility of a leak, especially after the fire that destroyed much of the hull, remains very real.

X-Press Feeders, the ship’s owner, said its salvage crew remains with the vessel to monitor its condition and any signs of an oil leak.

The X-Press Pearl had left the port of Hazira in western India carrying 1,486 containers when the fire started on May 20th off Colombo, Sri Lanka’s commercial capital.

Among its cargo are 81 containers of hazardous goods, including 25 metric tons of nitric acid — a key ingredient in the production of explosives, and touted as a possible factor for the fire on board.

“Most of the cargo seems to have incinerated by fire,” said Andrew Leahy, spokesman for X-Press Feeders.

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