X-Press Pearl off the coast of Sri Lanka – Update

As everyone is aware by now, the the X-Press Pearl, a Singapore flagged feeder vessel operated by X-Press Feeders started burning on the 21st of May off the coast of Sri Lanka.

On the 2nd of June, the vessel started sinking despite valiant efforts to fight the fire and as of 12th June is still hanging in there with the fore (bow) of the ship clinging to its last vestiges above the sea level while the aft of the vessel is submerged and resting on the sea bed at a depth of 21 meters.

X-Press Pearl environmental disaster - shipping and freight resource
Image : Sri Lankan Air Force

X-Press Feeders, the operators of the vessel have confirmed that the situation on scene remains under observation with no signs of debris and no confirmed reports of fuel oil pollution..

Inspections conducted by the Sri Lankan Navy divers have found no evidence of a breach to the ships fuel oil tanks, and observations from the Salvors is that there has been no noticeable fuel oil spill.

A grey sheen has been observed emanating from the vessel, and water samples are currently being tested. As per the communique, “discolouration of the sea has been apparent since the vessel’s stern became submerged, and the remnants of the cargo in the 1486 containers that were onboard were exposed to water.


It is understood that representatives of ITOPF and Oil Spill Response are monitoring updates from the scene and remain on standby to be deployed in case of any reported spill while it has also been reported that a team of officers from the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) are scheduled to inspect and investigate whether there is an oil leak in the seas surrounding the X-Press Pearl.

Marine chemists continue to take readings of the air around the vessel and test water samples to ensure the site’s safety while the salvors remain on scene to deal with any possible debris supported by the Sri Lankan Navy and the Indian Coast Guard, who have oil spill response capabilities.

X-Press Pearl environmental disaster - shipping and freight resource
Image : EPA

Many dead fish and turtle have been washing up on the shores of Negombo beach with bloated bellies and the plastic pellets stuck in their gills and bodies sparking further environmental concerns and also concerns about the livelihood of fishermen in the area.

The ITOPF and Oil Spill Response are reportedly closely coordinating with MEPA and the Sri Lankan Navy on an established plan to deal with any possible spill of oil and other pollutants. There are concerns of more chemicals among the hundreds of containers still on board the ship which could dislodge itself at any time owing to the weather conditions.

In the meantime, the crew (all of whom were rescued from the ship) remain housed in a quarantine hotel and continue to co-operate with local police in their investigations, with more interviews ongoing after the initial recordings from the Captain.

 

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