Sri Lanka prepares for ‘oil spill’ disaster, India offers support

Sri Lanka on Thursday, June 3 was preparing for a “worst case scenario” of a possible fuel spill from a cargo ship due to the sinking of the MV X-Press Pearl container ship. The ship suffered a 13-day fire near the main port of Colombo.

According to Sri Lankan Navy spokesman Indika de Silva told AFP: “There is no oil leak on board yet, but arrangements have been made to prepare for the worst case scenario of a possible leak.

An official involved in the operation told AFP that “we have asked for India’s help” to try to contain as much as possible the environmental disaster that has already occurred would be made worse by the oil spill.

The Indian Coast Guard has been involved in fire-fighting operations on board the container ship. An Indian ship equipped with specialized equipment also arrived at the first line of preparation to control any oil pollution.

The Sri Lankan Navy said a container ship that caused an unprecedented disaster in Sri Lanka’s marine ecology due to a fire sank today with hundreds of metric tons of fuel in its tanks.

The MV X-Press Pearl, a cargo ship carrying hundreds of metric tons of chemicals and plastics, burned for 13 days at visual distance from shore, and the fire on the cargo ship was finally extinguished yesterday by rescue workers. A large amount of plastic debris could be seen covering the beach.

This is a Singapore-registered, Chinese-made container ship, which was commissioned only in February this year and still contains an estimated 278 metric tons of marine oil and 50 metric tons of natural gas, which would have caused a more serious ecological disaster if it had been spilled into the Indian Ocean.

Tugboats began trying to tow the container ship farther offshore today, when Sri Lankan Navy spokesman Indika de Silva said the ship was sinking; “the stern has been submerged, the water level is above the deck, the ship is sinking.

Sri Lankan authorities believe that the fire on board was caused by a leak of nitric acid, which was known to those on board on May 11, nine days before the fire.

Sri Lankan authorities said they had prepared oil dispersants, booms and surface skimmers. The X-Press Pearl will be used as soon as the first signs of a spill appear.