Sri Lanka faces ‘worst beach pollution’ in history from burning ship

2021-05-30

Sri Lanka faces an unprecedented pollution crisis as waves of plastic waste from a burning container ship hit the coast and threaten to devastate the local environment, a top environment official warns.

Thousands of navy sailors have been using mechanical diggers at beaches to scoop up tonnes of tiny plastic granules that have come from the Singapore-registered MV X-Press Pearl, which has been smouldering on the horizon for 10 days.

Sri Lanka’s Marine Protection Authority (MEPA) said the microplastic pollution could cause years of ecological damage to the Indian Ocean island.

The tiny polyethylene pellets threaten beaches popular with tourists as well as shallow waters used by fish to breed.

Fishing has been banned along an 80-kilometre stretch of coast near the ship that has been burning for 10 days despite an international firefighting operation.

“There is smoke and intermittent flames seen from the ship,” navy spokesman Captain Indika de Silva said.

Orange-coloured plastic booms were set up in case oil leaks from the crippled ship reached Negombo Lagoon, which is famed for its crabs and jumbo prawns.

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ABC.net.au, 30 May 2021
; https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-05-30/sri-lanka-faces-worst-beach-pollution-from-burnt-ship/100176806