X-Press Pearl – Captain in court, dead turtles and controversial oil spill

Hundreds of turtles have washed ashore after a ship caught fire and sank off the west coast of Sri Lanka in June in the country’s worst-ever marine disaster, a court in the capital Colombo heard this week.” reports Reuters..

This is as part of the environmental impact caused by the sinking of the X-Press Pearl off the coast of Sri Lanka after being on fire for many days..

As per Reuters, a Sri Lankan court heard from Deputy Solicitor General, Madawa Tennakoon, that the toxins released from the ship have killed 176 turtles, 20 dolphins and four whales..

Videos showing carcasses of dead sea turtles and countless plastic pellets scattered over the shore and volunteers clearing them up are making the rounds..


Most of these carcasses are found on the west coast directly affected by the shipwreck and even during the south-western monsoon season, sea creatures never die in this way” said Environment Minister Mahinda Amaraweera..

The Reuters report added that 15 people including the Captain of the ship have been named co-accused in terms of the damage caused to the environment by the fire on board the ship and its subsequent sinking..

It is understood that the Captain has been barred from leaving the country in yet another case where ship captains are being held personally responsible for such incidents..

While the extent of the damage caused to the environment, economy and cargo interests is yet to be fully ascertained, it is understood that the Government of Sri Lanka has lodged a preliminary or interim claim with the operator of the vessel.. It is estimated that a pollution claim could also be added to this interim claim of US$40 million lodged..

In the interim, while the owners of the ship and Sri Lankan government say that no oil has spilled from the vessel, analysis by Orbital EOS a company set up to find and measure oil spills at sea paints a different picture..

Analysis of the radar data (shown below overlaid on a satellite map in Orbital’s dashboard) suggest that hundreds of tons of oil spilled from the vessel, represented in gray:

x-press pearl oil spill pollution dead turtles - shipping and freight resource
Image : Orbital EOS

Pablo Benjumeda Herreros is a Spanish Maritime Safety & Rescue Agency (SASEMAR) expert who set up Orbital EOS a company that uses satellite data to more efficiently monitor the world’s oceans for all kinds of activity..

As per Benjumeda, “That’s not a huge spill compared to others, but the problem with the oil is that the wreck is only 7 km offshore and the wind and currents are constant to the coastline, consequently, any single drop of oil will reach the coast in a very brief time.”..

Further updates will be done as it happens.. Stay signed in here..

 

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