Singapore-flagged MV X-Press Pearl, anchored off the Colombo port, reportedly caught on fire, leading to what turned out to be the worst ecological disaster in the nation’s history, per Greenpeace and others. The tanker was loaded with tons of harmful chemicals and plastic nurdles.
The fire had lasted for several days and even partially burnt debris, and the nurdles washed up on the once-pristine shores of Sri Lanka with bodies of dead animals. Sri Lanka is awaiting the wreck removal to place a second environmental damage claim.
China-based Shanghai Salvage had reportedly been hired to eliminate the wreck in 2021 (Feb). It was initially expected to be removed within 120 days, but poor weather delayed the operation. The subsequent interim claim will be pending until the shipwreck is removed, Dharshani Lahandapura recently mentioned.
Nothing can be done to come up with the final report as they assume that the pollution is still happening at the moment.
Sri Lanka, in the meanwhile, has received about 40 million dollars from insurers via an interim claim.
The ship was carrying nitric acid, caustic soda, and other chemicals used for personal items like perfume, Lahandapura added.
There were electric and electronic equipment and lithium in the containers. Those are highly hazardous.
The evacuation is taking place now. The ship has been cut into two, and one part has been differentially floated.
A special committee appointed by the government warned that more damages might occur even during a salvage operation if the material inside the vessel spills into the sea, Sri Lanka’s Justice Ministry mentioned in its statement.
References: Economy Next, Economic Times, News Drums