Report on marine life samples still not released

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Nearly eight months have passed since over 100 biological samples, extracted from dead marine animals, following the X-Press Pearl disaster in 2021, were sent to Uppsala University – a public research university in Uppsala, Sweden, but the results are still to be revealed.

National Aquatic Resources Research and Development Agency (NARA) officials said the results of the tests on the marine animal samples were still pending and did not give any other reasons, but said to inquire from the Marine Environment Protection Authority (MEPA). However, neither MEPA nor NARA explained the cause of the delay in obtaining the results.

Those biological samples of dead animals were sent to Sweden on 31 January 2022, according to NARA.

Speaking to Ceylon Today, an official from NARA said that a total of 387 samples of sea animals, water and sediments and plastic nurdles were sent for testing to various laboratories and another 14 seawater samples remain to be sent for testing at the moment. The 14 samples are ready for dispatch and the dispatching is yet to be finalised, the official added.

MEPA, the sole authority that files legal actions and collects evidence and all other related activities related to marine life and the environment is at a crossroad in obtaining and filing legal actions to claim compensation.

It is learnt that over 100 marine samples were sent to Uppsala University.   

 “There is certainly a delay,” said the NARA official, “one being lack of funds to expedite the testing of the samples”. Others are owing to the fact of obtaining permission and dispatching them and the process involved in sending it, the official added.

The water sediments and ocean water were sent to the United Kingdom as well as to India (ALS Testing Services India) respectively and all the results have reached Sri Lanka, the official said.  

According to NARA, the biological samples are stored in the freezer at the NARA laboratory and when about to dispatch the MEPA comes to obtain them.

By Sulochana Ramiah Mohan