Sri Lanka, a merchant ship loaded with chemicals sinks: the worst environmental disaster in the history of the country is risked

It is still going on Sri Lanka what for the local authorities is the worst environmental disaster of the country’s history due to the fire and the sinking of the merchant ship MV X-Press Pearl carrying chemicals. In trouble, Sri Lanka turned toIndia asking for help to protect the coasts from the potential black tide that could be generated by the sinking. This is made known by a manager involved in operations that try to limit the ecological catastrophe. The Indian coast guard has already taken part in the operations that followed to put out the fire that started on May 20. Despite the use of approx 5,600 fishing boats and hundreds of soldiers to clean up the entire affected area, chemical losses have not yet been stemmed.


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Aftermath of Singapore-flagged container ship explosion

The attempt to move the ship into deeper water failed, resulting in thesinking of the stern which leaned against the seabed. Thus, now the rest of the container ship is also in danger of sinking. “We are preparing for the worst case scenario” said the commander of the ports of Sri Lanka, Nirmal Silva, noting that no fuel leaks have yet been observed. The oil on board may have already run out due to the fire, but if that were not the case, the contents of the tanks could disperse in the ocean causing a disaster of even greater proportions.

Due to the material on board, 1,486 containers for approx 25 tons of nitric acid, polythene pellets (used to produce plastic bags) and other substances harmful to flora and fauna, the authorities of the capital have fishing prohibited up to 80 kilometers from the coast. This, however, may not be enough. According to experts, it could take weeks – or even months – to completely clean up the beaches from harmful debris washed ashore by the currents. There is a risk that the substances dispersed in the ocean (already approx 3 billion tiny plastic balls) fragment, so as to be further dispersed into the environment. Sri Lankan police have already opened an investigation and banned the captain of the MV X-Press Pearl from leaving the country. The government has meanwhile made it known that it will take legal action against the owners of the ship to seek compensation. While the Sri Lankan environment minister Mahinda Amaraweera he said that “if the disaster happened for negligence, those responsible must be punished “.

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