Sri Lanka braces for environmental disaster
June 3, 2021 - Sri Lanka is readying for the possibility of an oil spill after a cargo ship laden with chemicals sank off its western coast.
The Singapore-registered X-Press Pearl, carrying 1,486 containers, including 25 tonnes of nitric acid along with other chemicals and cosmetics, was anchored off Sri Lanka's west coast when a fire erupted onboard after an explosion on May 20.
The ship’s operators X-Press Feeders have said the fire destroyed most of the ship’s cargo, which included 25 tons of nitric acid and other chemicals. But there are fears that remaining chemicals as well as hundreds of tons of oil from the vessel’s fuel tanks could leak into the sea.
Such a disaster could devastate marine life and further pollute the island nation’s famed beaches. The disaster has already caused debris, including several tons of plastic pellets used to make plastic bags, to wash a ashore.
The government already has banned fishing along about 80 kilometres of coastline.