Sri Lanka’s beaches are threatened by the largest environmental disaster in its history | Scientist

Tons of plastic from a container ship ablaze near the coast Sri Lanka The country’s shores are threatened with the largest pollution in their history.

Authorities have banned fishing in an 80 km-long area around the “MV X-Press Pearl” ship that carries the UAE flag. SingaporeThat was on fire nine days ago and It threatens to rupture, which could cause a major environmental disaster with the possibility of tons of fuel dumped into the Indian Ocean.

A photo of the MV X-Press Pearl ship ablaze off the coast of Sri Lanka on May 29, 2021 – Photo: Ishara S. Kodikara / AFP

There is an international operation underway to prevent a disaster, but the nearest beaches are already facing another tragedy: millions of plastic granules have been seized from the ship’s cargo.

According to the authorities, the ship was carrying, among other things, 28 containers of polystyrene pellets, mainly intended to protect the cargo, and eight of them fell into the sea.

Cleaning the beaches from tons of these balls mixed with burnt oil and ship scraps would be a mammoth task.

“This is potentially the largest beach pollution in history,” said Darshani Lahandapura, president of the Marine Environment Protection Authority (MEPA).

A guard in Sri Lanla near a beach with ashes of a ship burned off the coast of the country on May 29, 2021.Photo: Ishara S. Kodikara / AFP

In addition to the pollution of the tourist beaches, the marine areas in the area, known for its crab and giant shrimp, are also threatened. Scientists are also assessing the impact on the area’s lakes, mangroves, and marine life.

The fire weakened the 186-meter-long structure of the container, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. In addition to fuel from its tanks, the ship carried 278 tons of fuel and 50 tons of diesel.

“There is still smoke and occasional flames, but the ship is stable,” a Sinhalese navy spokesman, Captain Indica de Silva, told AFP.

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