Marine Environment Protection Authority reports that X-Press Pearl has caused the biggest marine pollution in the history of Sri Lanka. The incident has severely impact on marine life and environment. They assume that it would take about 20 years to recover from the pollution.
How the incident happen
On 15th May 2021 X-Press Pearl was departed from Hazera port India carrying 1486 containers with dangerous good onboard.
Initially the fire was noticed on 20th May while the vessel was at an anchorage in Colombo port and at that moment it was anchored at a distance of 9.5nm away from the main entrance of the port.
However, the first fire was controlled by crew with the assist of Sri Lankan authorities.
But unfortunately on 25th May the fire broke out again with a huge explosion causing some containers fall into the sea.
Immediately all the 25 crew members were evacuated safely but two were injured and hospitalized.
Reason for the fire
The operators of X-Press Pearl say that poor packaging has caused the toxic chemical leaked from the package.
Why couldn’t Sri Lankan authorities minimize the damage?
Because of the adverse weather conditions Sri Lankan forces couldn’t able to control the raging fire throughout a week.
Anyway the forces have put their maximum effort to control the damage and calm the fire by boundary cooling and spraying 400 kilos of dry chemical powder.
European and Indian firefighting vessels have joined with Sri Lanka to control the fire.
Then they could able to extinguish the fire on 27th of May, before the ship’s hull get disintegrate.
The vessel is still afloat but the cargo has totally destroyed.
Most importantly firefighters could able to prevent the oil spillage of 378 tonnes that were onboard.
The International convention for prevention of pollution from ships (MARPOL) is the International convention which is covering prevention of pollution of marine environment by ship from accident or other causes.
This treaty has given the procedures and rule and regulations in the form six annexes that we should follow.
In the six annexes they have mainly discussed about the main sources of marine pollution.
They are as follows:
- DANGEROUS CARGO IN PACKAGE FORM
- NOXIOUS LIQUID SUBSTANCES IN BULK
- GARBAGE – (Plastics, Food waste etc.)
For each and every source they have given separate discharging and disposal methods.
THE CARGO THAT WAS IN THE XPRESS PEARL.
- 78 tons of plastic granules
- 25 tons of Nitric acid – Not a pollutant
- Toxic Chemicals
The next morning after the explosion burnt debris and some fallen cargo were washing up on Sri Lanka’s Negombo coast.
Most of the plastic granules spilled from cargo has washed up to the shore and they have severely affected and poisoned many sea creatures.
In the MARPOL convention they have clearly mentioned about disposing plastic into the sea and they have strictly prohibited of disposing plastic into the sea because they know that plastic will take 450 – 500 years to decay.
Sri Lanka’s Marine Environment Protection authority assumes that Sri Lanka would take more than 20 years to recover from this major disaster.