The fire declared on the merchant ship ‘MV X-Press Pearl’ has already caused what is considered the worst spill in the history of Sri Lanka and the local press speculates with the “death” of the seas around the island.
“With the information we have we can say that it is the worst disaster of our era,” said the director of the Authority for the Protection of the Marine Environment, Dharshani Lahandapura, quoted by the British newspaper ‘The Guardian’.
The fire has caused a huge spill of chemicals and microplastics that seriously threaten marine life in the area. The ‘MV X-Press Pearl’ is anchored about eight miles from the Sri Lankan capital, Colombo.
The ship was carrying 25 tons of nitric acid, sodium hydroxide and other dangerous chemicals, more than 300 tons of fuel, and 28 containers of plastic granules used to make plastic bags.
The 25 crew members have already been evacuated, but the operation to douse the flames has been complicated by monsoon winds and the risk posed by the highly flammable and poisonous cargo.
The ‘MV X-Press Pearl’, a Singapore-flagged ship, broke down on May 20 and shortly after a fire broke out on board that could not be controlled despite the efforts of the Sri Lankan Navy and the collaboration of the Indian Coast Guard and explosions continue to occur.
The ship is also very close to the resorts of Negombo and Kalutara, whose beaches are covered in plastic pellets and fuel.