Sri Lanka Prepares For Worst Oil Spill As Weather Hits Ship Salvage

Sri Lanka prepares for worst oil spill as weather hits ship salvage

Colombo, June 3 (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 3rd Jun, 2021 ) :Sri Lanka was preparing Thursday for a possible major oil leak from the burnt-out cargo ship sinking off Colombo's main harbour, as worsening weather stalled salvage efforts.

The Marine Environment Protection Authority readied oil dispersants and skimmers in case of a leak from the MV X-Press Pearl, which had 350 tonnes of fuel oil on board when it caught fire two weeks ago.

The vessel, which burned for 13 days until Tuesday, has already caused the island's worst maritime environmental disaster, littering beaches with tonnes of tiny plastic pellets.

With the stern now on the sea bed and the bow slowly sinking, environmentalists fear an oil leak would cause even greater degradation to marine life.

An Indian coastguard vessel in the area has equipment to deal with any oil slick, according to the Sri Lankan navy, which requested assistance with the operation.

Sri Lanka's Harbour Master Nirmal Silva said no oil had leaked in the past 36 hours.

"Looking at the way the ship burnt, expert opinion is that bunker oil may have burnt out, but we are preparing for the worst-case scenario," Silva said.

Two-metre (six-feet) waves, rain and strong winds prevented salvage experts going on board to assess whether the ship could be refloated and moved further out to sea, he added.

Alternatively it could be broken apart in the relatively shallow water.