Sri Lanka’s Fight to Protect Their Environment and Economy

Di Valentina Horlander*

Washington. For the past eight days, the MV X-Press Pearl, a cargo vessel, has been burning 9.5 nautical miles northwest of Sri Lanka’s capitol city, Colombo.

he MV X-Press Pearl, a cargo vessel, has been burning 9.5 nautical miles northwest of Sri Lanka’s capitol city

The vessel was carrying 1500 containers of cosmetics and 25 tons of nitric acid as cargo.

It left the country India and was on its way to deliver to Sri Lanka.

The ship was a Singaporean ship, and it was owned by the company X-Press shipping.

The fire began on the 20th of May and was reported to have been caused by a nitric acid leak on the deck of the ship.

The owner of the ship did confirm that both he and the crew knew about the leak while they were docked in India.

Fortunately, all 25 crew members were rescued and only 2 were injured in the chaos.

Both the Sri Lankan Navy and the Indian Navy have been on the front lines responding to the burning vessel. Sri Lanka’s Airforce is airdropping fire-retardant chemicals to curb the flames.

Countries in Europe have also come to aid by sending their own firefighters.

The firefighters and military are being pressured to work swiftly, because the possibility of an oil spill is imminent if the fire does not get put out soon.

If an oil spill does happen, the effect it will have on marine life will be devastating.

The beaches of Sri Lanka are immediately seeing the effects of the blaze.

The beaches of Sri Lanka are immediately seeing the effects of the blaze

The sand is already being completely covered in the ship’s oil and its debris. The debris has been reported to contain microplastic coming from the containers.

Microplastics are fragments of plastic less than 5 millimeters in length, according to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the European Chemicals Agency.

Microplastics damage marine life, such as birds and sea turtles who have been found with these microplastics in their stomachs and digestive tracts.

These plastics lead to massive amounts of animals starving and dying. Not only will it affect marine life, but also the Sri Lanka economy.

Fishermen have been banned from fishing off the coast due to the ship fire.

Fishing is a huge source of income for many small communities in Sri Lanka and represents about 2% of the country’s GDP.

The consequences from this fire can lead to a loss of marine life and a loss of income for Sri Lanka.

It is up to the brave men and women fighting to put out the fire that will determine the future of Sri Lanka’s beaches, oceans and wealth.

*South Asia Analyst

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