Millions of plastic pellets from a container ship ablaze off Colombo have already washed up on beaches, along with other hazardous waste. The disaster threatens the lucrative fishing and tourism sectors.
“This is the biggest environmental catastrophe to hit Sri Lanka since the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami,” said Thummarukudyil Muraleedharan, the Operations Manager of the Crisis Management Branch with the United Nations Environment Program.
Sri Lanka probably was going through the worst beach pollution in our history as a burning container ship continued to spill plastic debris into the sea off the Capital, Colombo.
More than 30 containers has spilled and most of them contain chemicals, was mixed with the sea water. Using publicly available data, it is estimated that the ship contained 70-75 billion individual pellets.
The plastic has flooded the beaches around Colombo and the nurdles also turned up in the gills and guts of fish. The affected seafront is known for its crabs and jubo prawns. Fishermen have been banned from an 80km stretch of coast around the vessel.
The question of oil
According to the officials estimated cargo service ,the oil problem including 25 tons of nitric acid, sodium hydroxide, lubricants and other chemicals, appeared to have been destroyed in the fire. But the UN team thought that even though the oil was burnt it is unlikely to have evaporated. This was the second major environmental disaster which hit Sri Lanka in less than a year. The government established steps to the owners to pay $17 million for any subsequent clean-up.
After carrying out this matter to several law actions and decisions, which were asked to make by the legislation own law such as charging a compensation, dragging out the immersed ship out from the local sea boundary. It was taken legal actions against the officers who were involved on this. The shipping company agreed to pay the compensation as per the decision made by the legislation but up to today we have not heard a news regarding that. Without any doubts it can be stayed that the relevant corrupted officers have been involved in this case also. So as a nation which is always being protected by the mother of nature has given the priority to money instead of protecting the Mother Nature.
We have heard that the dead bodies of sea turtles were thrown away instead of doing a proper scientific research or a post – mortem. The minister used to say that it is a normal situation to see turtle dead bodies in every corner of the country. As nature lovers we can identify how they were trying to cheat the people while protecting the corrupted parties.
As Sri Lankans we can see lot of volunteer communities are still working on reducing the possible damage to our coastal areas. Nurdle free Sri Lanka and zero plastic, NGOs and nature loving societies as worked hard to have justice. Scientists and the relevant authorities continued to mention that the real output of this disaster cannot be seen by now, but by the time the people will start learning the real impact of this disaster.
The most unfortunate thing is that this disaster happened at the seasons which turtles migrate to Sri Lankan beach premises for the mating season. As the Sri Lankan beaches are familiar and reachable for them , they used to migrate here. This disaster has made them lives miserable .As humans all have been so irresponsible and selfish. This is not what nature mom expect from us.
Not only the turtles many types of fish also been found at beaches at every corner of Sri Lanka. This is what money greedy politicians and officers have left us with.
The small and all loving paradise of the Indian Ocean has converted into a place where those loving sea creatures lost lives.
This hidden ship under the sea still keep releasing oil and chemicals into the sea which is very harmful even to humans while the responsible ones keep enjoying the their lives.
The carrying out actions or any other actions have not been followed by the relevant parties while making us confirm that the “law is blind”.
By: Achintha dasun
Faculty of Agriculture
Sabaragamuwa University of Sri Lanka