Sri Lanka launches investigation into shipwreck polluting beaches | Sri Lanka News


Colombo says he has launched a criminal investigation after the ship flooded the country’s coast with microplastics.

Sri Lanka launched a criminal investigation on Sunday against a huge container ship fire that has flooded the island nation’s coast with plastic pollution that has probably caused one of its worst marine disasters in history.

Tons of microplastic granules have flooded the famous beaches of the South Asian country of Negombo, a popular tourist destination, forcing fishing bans and causing fears of ecological damage.

The Pearl MV X-Press Pearl, registered in Singapore, has been smoking on the horizon for 11 days after a flame broke out on its way to Colombo from the Indian state of Gujarat.

The 25-member crew, which has already been evacuated from the ship, will be questioned on Monday after a complaint was filed by the Sri Lanka Marine Environment Protection Authority, police said.

Last week, authorities said they believed the fire was caused by a nitric acid leak the crew had known since May 11.

“The captain and crew were in quarantine, but health authorities have told us we can interrogate them from tomorrow,” police spokesman Ajith Rohana told AFP news agency.

“We have already sent samples of contaminated seawater and burnt remains from the ship for a forensic report.”

Sri Lankan Air Force personnel remove debris dragged ashore from Singapore-registered MV X-Press Pearl container ship on Colombo beach [Lakruwan Wanniarachchi/AFP]

Authorities and operators of the container ship say the fire has continued to burn, although it has been brought under control.

The ship’s owners, X-Press Feeders, said the ship’s hull remained intact and there was no damage to the fuel tanks.

According to officials, it appears that much of the ship’s cargo, including 25 tons of nitric acid, sodium hydroxide, lubricants and other chemicals, has been destroyed.

The Sri Lanka Marine Protection Authority (MEPA) said the ship’s plastic waste in flames had probably caused “the worst beach pollution in our history” and warned it could cause years of ecological damage.

Fishermen have been banned from the 80-kilometer (50-mile) stretch of coast where pellets have been razed.

Fisheries Minister Kanchana Wijesekera said the government would compensate fishermen for the planned losses.

At least 4,500 fishermen were affected in the fishing and tourist town of Negombo, officials of the Roman Catholic church in the area said on Saturday while asking for financial help.

Priest Sujeewa Athukorale told AFP on Saturday that they also feared the reduction in demand for seafood in the area for fears of pollution.

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