The damage caused to the marine environment due to the fire on the Singapore-registered container freighter MV X-Press Pearl, which sank within the Sri Lankan territorial waters, will last for another 20 years and the damage cannot be estimated in dollars, Environment Minister Mahinda Amaraweera said.
In a statement to the media, he stated that a list of cargo the freighter had carried has been received, and that the ship contained 193 lethal cargo among 1,486 containers.
He also said that containers with a large volume of plastic pellets were on the ship. The plastic pellets were enough for two main local companies to manufacture plastic and polythene based products.
"We have already collected massive piles of plastic pellets which have been washed ashore around the country. We do not know how many million pellets have been eaten by fish and settled on the sea bed. Plastic pellets piled up on the beaches have been collected and stored in 40 containers for destruction. We can now imagine how greater the volume of plastic is imported into the country each year. Less than 10% of plastic is recycled and the rest is released into the environment," Minister Amaraweera said.
Therefore, the damage caused by the sinking of the Express Pearl should be compensated and all those responsible should be identified and punished.
The CID has began investigating this under on the instructions of the President and the Justice Minister. He also said at the Cabinet meeting that two cases have already been filed against this, the Minister said.
This tragedy resulted in massive environmental catastrophe that cannot be fathomed in dollars. Dead sea creatures such as turtles and dolphins can now be found strewn on the beaches. All those involved in this devastation must be severely punished.
"I asked the Marine Environment Protection Authority (MEPA) to inquire about whether there was an oil leak from the sunken ship.
Meanwhile, the MEPA Chairman informed the Ministry that a team from the company had already been sent to the ship to probe and obtain relevant oil samples," Minister Amaraweera said. (Chaturanga Samarawickrama)