Court orders MV X-Press Pearl seized

  • Colombo Commercial HC orders Port Harbour Master
  • Complaint filed by shipping company Trico

BY Pamodi Waravita – themorning.lk

The Colombo Commercial High Court (HC) yesterday (7) ordered the Colombo Port Harbour Master to seize custody of the MV X-Press Pearl ship which caused the largest maritime disaster recorded in Sri Lankan waters in May 2021.

The court has reached this decision following a complaint filed by private shipping company Trico Maritime (Pvt.) Ltd.

Speaking to The Morning yesterday (7), Trico International Managing Director Don Gamini Kannagara said that the company filed the complaint to protect the interests of its customers whose goods were stuck aboard the vessel.

Attorney Prof. Dan Mallika Gunasekera, who represented Trico Maritime, has told the court that Trico Maritime had six containers onboard the MV X-Press Pearl which were destroyed in the fire that occurred aboard the vessel. Thus, Trico Maritime had faced a loss of approximately $ 600,000.

The case will be heard again on 21 October.

The MV X-Press Pearl ship caught fire on 20 May, approximately nine nautical miles away from the Colombo Harbour, after having anchored there a few hours prior to the fire. A subsequent explosion on 24 May led to the fire spreading and a number of containers aboard it falling into the sea, thus releasing pollutants, including plastic pellets, into the water.

At the time of the incident, the ship was carrying 348 tonnes of fuel oil and 1,486 containers, of which 81 were carrying dangerous goods including 25 tonnes of nitric acid, caustic soda, and methanol. A total of 1,680 tonnes of environmentally harmful plastic pellets had also been onboard. The United Nations (UN) Environmental Advisory Mission on the maritime disaster caused by the MV X-Press Pearl has stated that the increasing geographical extent of the plastic spill from the ship is the “largest on record”.

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Chandana Sesath Jayakody

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