Cargo Ship Carrying Tons of Chemicals Sinks off Sri Lanka, Pollutes Rich Fishing Waters

A cargo ship carrying tons of chemicals sinks off the west coast of Sri Lanka after being ablaze for two weeks – polluting the fishing waters. The vessel has fouled the coastline with tons of plastic pellets and now the oil spill and seeping chemicals from the sinking ship have polluted the rich fishing waters.

Consequently, the government has suspended fishing along the 50-mile coastline after an explosion and fire, affecting 5,600 fishing boats. Hundreds of soldiers have been deployed to clean affected beaches. It is one of the country’s worst marine disasters.

Cargo Ship carrying tons of Chemicals Sinks off Sri Lanka

Cargo ship carrying tons of chemicals sinks off the west coast of Sri Lanka after being ablaze for two weeks | Image: EPA

The Singapore-registered MV X-Press Pearl, carrying 1.486 containers including 25 tons of nitric acid along with other chemicals and cosmetics, was fastened off Sri Lanka’s west coast when a fire broke out after an explosion on May 20.

Burning containers laden with chemicals seeped into the sea from the ship’s deck as emergency crews tried to contain the fire over the following weeks.

The ship started to sink early on June 2, and a salvage crew sought to tow the vessel to deeper water away from the coast, but the attempt was abandoned after several hours. The towing efforts were stopped as the rear end of the vessel kept hitting the seabed.

Cargo Ship carrying tons of Chemicals Sinks off Sri Lanka

The Singapore-registered MV X-Press Pearl cargo ship sinks off Sri Lanka | Image: EPA

The country’s air force showed the charred ruin of the ship emitting white smoke as it listed to the right and began sinking, and part of it soon touched the seabed, 22 meters deep in the immediate area.

Environmentalist Dr. Ajantha Perera said,

With all the dangerous goods, the nitric acid and all these other things, and the oil in the ship, if it’s sinking it will basically destroy the whole bottom of the sea. The environmental issues will remain in our waters now.

The coastal stretch near Negombo, which is home to some of the country’s most pristine beaches, has seen oil and debris pollution for days now, threatening thousands’ livelihoods.

Meanwhile, the fisheries ministry has implemented emergency measures in place to protect the Negombo lagoon and surrounding areas and all fishing from Panadura to Negombo had been suspended. The fishermen are disappointed as the ship has dealt a death blow to their livelihood.

The officials believe that the fire was caused by a nitric acid leak which the crew had been aware of since May 11. The ship had been carrying 25 tons of highly corrosive acid, which can be used to make fertilizers and explosives.

Via: The Guardian 

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