They wear white protective suits and yellow rubber boots and collect debris in white bags along beaches. Next to that, sea waves and waves fly towards the earth. Working conditions for rescue crews are difficult due to the monsoons.
The container ship “X-Press Pearl” was carrying chemicals, plastics and cosmetics. The burning started outside the capital, Colombo, eight days ago. Residual oil from the ship, among other things, hit beaches in the area around the Negombo tourist resort.
However, the biggest challenge was the presence of large quantities of small plastic pellets on board. BBC reports.
Plastic pellets are a kind of plastic particles, and they are made from refined crude oil and other additives. It can sink to the ocean floor, be eaten by different species, carry bacteria and phytoplankton over greater distances or wash ashore along the coast, according to her. Center for the Protection of Marine Oil and the Environment.
Millions of small plastic parts
Small plastic parts have spread to other cities along the West Coast, according to the BBC. Crews from the country’s navy have been dispatched to the beaches to clean up a mixture of millions of plastic parts and other debris and burnt oil, according to Agence France-Presse.
The wreck comes from at least eight containers that have fallen off the ship. Plastic is a raw material used in the packaging industry. According to Agence France-Presse, there should also be 25 tons of nitric acid and ethanol on board.
State authorities believe that the cause of the fire was a leak from one of the containers containing nitric acid. The ship is registered in Singapore, and started burning while waiting for permission to sail to Colombo. Two crew members sustained minor injuries.
Fearing an environmental disaster
At sea, the battle against the violent shooting at X-Press Pearl continues. Four Indian ships assist the Sri Lankan defense in an attempt to extinguish the fire. The operation is led by the Dutch company Named after Who sent specialists to the country.
Sri Lankan authorities fear an environmental disaster if the ship sinks, according to Agence France-Presse. There are several hundreds of tons of oil on board. Dharshani leader Lahandapura MebaWorking to protect the marine environment in Sri Lanka. She told the news agency that if the ship sank, the mission would be much more difficult.
Lahandapura thinks the beach cleanup will last for several weeks – maybe months. In addition, authorities take samples of water and air to check whether the smoke from the fire could cause health damage.
This is not the first time that the Sri Lankan defense has been involved in ship fires. In September 2020, an oil tanker started burning outside Sri Lanka. The ship was bound for India with 2 million barrels of oil on board, and the defense finally brought the fire under control.