A ship with radioactive materiel entered the Hambantota Port on Tuesday night but has now been told to move into the outer port immediately.
The ship had reportedly entered the Hambantota Port after it faced technical difficulties.
The Sri Lanka Atomic Energy Board said that the ship was on its way to China when it faced technical difficulties and entered the Hambantota Port.
Director of the Sri Lanka Atomic Energy Board, T.M.R Tennakoon said that the port authorities were unaware of the material on board the ship when it entered the port.
Tennakoon said that when it was discovered that the ship contained radioactive materiel steps were taken to move the vessel to the outer-port.
He said that the ship was instructed not to unload any of the items on the vessel.
Tennakoon also said that a team from the Atomic Energy Board has been dispatched to Hambantota immediately.
He said that there was no immediate threat to Sri Lanka from the hazardous items on board the ship and that the vessel.
Tennakoon also said that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa had been briefed about the incident.
Meanwhile, Hambantota International Port Group Pvt Ltd said that M.V. BBC Naples sailing under the flag of “Antigua & Barbados” entered the port of Hambantota on 20th April at 2100 hrs, while en route from Rotterdam to China.
The ship made an emergency call at the port for some urgent repairs. Agents for the vessel in Sri Lanka, Ms. Barwil Meridian Navigation, had not declared to the port authorities that there was dangerous cargo on board prior to the vessel entering the port.
It was later found that they were carrying a cargo of Uranium Hexafluoride via investigations made by the Sri Lanka Navy and the Port Authority. The vessel was required to leave the port no sooner the facts were verified.
“The Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA), Navy, and Customs officials had approved all the necessary documentation prior to berthing of the vessel, based on the declaration made by the agent. The Navy and Customs were present at all times to ensure that there wasn’t any cargo unloaded onto the Hambantota International Port premises,” Hambantota International Port Group said in a statement.
Operations of the port were handed over to the Hambantota International Port Group in 2017 on a 99-year lease. (Easwaran Rutnam)