Burning Ship Covers Sri Lankan Beach With Tonnes Of Plastic

Original story www.ndtv.com May 28 2021

Tonnes of charred plastic pellets from a burning container ship washed ashore near Sri Lanka’s capital Friday as an international effort to salvage the vessel dragged into a ninth day.

Thick black smoke rose from the Singapore-registered MV X-Press Pearl, anchored just outside Colombo harbour, heightening fears that it could break up spilling its 278 tonnes of bunker oil.

Navy personnel in hazmat suits were sent to clean millions of plastic granules mixed with burned oil and other residue that covered Negombo beach, 40 kilometres (25 miles) north of the capital.

The plastic-covered beach, normally a draw for tourists and known as a fishing centre, was declared off limits. The smoking container ship could be seen on the horizon.

Bulldozers scooped up tonnes of the polythene pellets that came from at least eight containers that fell off the ship on Tuesday.

Officials said the vessel was known to carry at least 28 containers of the pellets that are used as a raw material in the packaging industry.

The fire broke out on May 20 as the ship waited to enter the Colombo port.

It is also carrying 25 tonnes of nitric acid, an unspecified quantity of ethanol and lubricants in its 1,500 containers.

Authorities believe the fire was caused by a nitric acid leak which the crew had been aware of since May 11, Sri Lanka’s Marine Environment Protection Authority (MEPA) said.

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