A Singapore-registered container ship has been on fire for nine days off the coast of Sri Lanka’s capital Colombo. Authorities have banned fishing in an area of 80 km along this vessel, the MV X-Press Pearl, which threatens to break down and cause an environmental catastrophe by dumping hundreds of tons of fuel oil into the vessel. ???? Indian Ocean.
But, while an international operation is underway to try to avoid this oil spill, the nearby beaches are already crumbling under another pollution: millions of granules plastics from the ship’s cargo. According to the authorities, it transported in particular 28 containers full of these polyethylene granules, intended for the packaging industry, of which eight fell. In the water.
And cleaning up the beaches polluted by tons of pellets mixed with burnt oil and other debris washed up by the sea is a titanic job. “This is probably the most important beach pollution in our history,” said Dharshani Lahandapura, chair of the Conservation Authority of the United States. marine environment.
Besides the pollution on these tourist beaches, it also poses a serious threat to the shallow waters of this region known in particular for its crabs and giant shrimp. Scientists are also assessing the impact on the region’s mangroves, lagoons and marine life.
The ship, whose 186-meter-long structure was weakened by the fire, could break and be drained of its oil. In addition to the fuel in its tank, it transports 278 tonnes of bunker fuel and 50 tonnes of marine diesel.
Located 40 kilometers north of the capital, Negombo, a fishing region, is threatened by a potential oil spill and its beach, the country’s tourist hotspot, is now prohibited in public. While the fire appears to be finally under control, much remains to be done to secure the ship.