- Agents failed to declare dangerous cargo on board
- Legal action against local agent
- Ship ordered to leave Sri Lanka
By Easwaran Rutnam
A ship heading to China with Uranium entered the Hambantota Port on Tuesday night and was yesterday (Wednesday) ordered to leave Sri Lanka.
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 ship was instructed not to unload any cargo after it was found that hazardous material was on board. Tennakoon said that a team from the Atomic Energy Board has been dispatched to Hambantota.
He said that there was no threat to Sri Lanka from the hazardous items on board the ship as the vessel had been moved to the outer-port yesterday. The ship was later ordered to leave Sri Lankan waters as the cargo was considered dangerous.
Tennakoon also said that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa had been briefed about the incident. State Minister of Solar, Wind and Grid Power Generation Projects Development Duminda Dissanayake said that the ship had left the Hambantota Port yesterday.
He also said that legal action is to be taken against the local agent, Wilhelmsen Meridian Navigation Ltd, for failing to declare that there was dangerous cargo on the ship. 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,” Hambantota International Port Group said in a statement last evening. Investigation conducted by the Sri Lanka Navy and the Ports Authority found that the ship was carrying a cargo of Uranium Hexafluoride.
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.
Operations of the port were handed over to the Hambantota International Port Group in 2017 on a 99-year lease. The Sri Lanka Navy manages the security in and around the port.