Sri Lanka Braces For Beach Pollution As Ship Burns
Faizan Hashmi 22 days ago Thu 27th May 2021 | 11:40 AM
Colombo, (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 27th May, 2021 ) :Three Indian vessels on Thursday joined the battle to contain a major fire on a container ship off the Sri Lanka coast amid fears that it could break up and spew out hundreds of tonnes of oil.
A military helicopter was deployed to drop bags of fire retardant chemicals on the ship Wednesday.
The fire is believed to have started in a container of nitric acid and rapidly spread, Lahandapura said.
Authorities are investigating reports that the crew had known about nitric acid leaks before entering Sri Lankan waters.
But Lahandapura said a large quantity of oil could reach the tourist and fishing region of Negombo, 40 kilometres (25 miles) north of the capital.
The military would be deployed to clean Negombo beach if needed, the official added.
"Given the very rough seas and the heavy monsoon winds, it is not possible to lay booms around the ship to contain a spill.
"Our best option is to clean the beach and we suspect any clearing operation will take a few weeks, if not months." In September last year, an oil tanker caught fire off Sri Lanka's eastern coast after an engine room explosion that killed a crewman.
That fire was put out after more than a week with the help of India's coastguard, but the New Diamond tanker left a 40 kilometre (25 mile) long oil spill. Sri Lanka has demanded the owners pay a $17 million clean-up bill.
The 25 crew on the X-Press Pearl were evacuated on Tuesday following an explosion. One has been admitted to hospital with minor injuries.
Residents who scavenged plastic raw materials that washed ashore on Wednesday were barred from entering the beach Thursday as the military deployed.
Sri Lanka is also under a strict lockdown as it battles the spread of coronavirus infections.