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International expert warns Lanka not to take harm caused by X-Press Pearl lightly

By Ifham Nizam – island.lk

Sri Lanka should not take the marine environment damage caused by the Singapore flagged X-Press Pearl disaster lightly, Dr. Theresa Karlsson, science and Technical Adviser of IPEN International Pollutants Elimination Network (IPEN) says.

Karlson has said that despite the measures already adopted by the Lankan authorities to clean up the beaches, a lot more has to be done to reverse the damage created.

Dr. Karlsson, responding to queries directed, during a webinar, told The Island that despite strict measures by the Hong Kong government during a similar incident, the negative effects of the accident were felt even six years after the event. During the X-press Pearl disaster 1,680 tonnes of chemicals were released into the ocean; this is more than 10-fold the chemicals released during the disaster in Hong Kong.

The “X-Press Pearl disaster could get more complicated,” she warned.

Centre for Environmental Justice (CEJ) Executive Director Dilena Pathragoda said studies on the disaster were being done by the Sri Jayewardenepura University

Marine Environment Protection Authority (MEPA) Chairman Dharshani Lahandapura told journalists a committee appointed to estimate the full extent of damage by the container vessel is expected to present its interim report on 30 November.

Lahandapura said the 40-member expert committee was headed by a Senior Professor of Environmental Economics. She said the operators of the vessel, X-Press Feeders had awarded the tender to clear the debris on the seabed to Resolve Marine Salvage Company. It has been tentatively found some 338 pieces of debris possibly linked to the ship, scattered on the seabed.

The vessel which was carrying hazardous cargo, caught fire off the coast of Colombo in May this year.


Chandana Sesath Jayakody

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