All responsible should face legal consequences – Amaraweera
By Thameenah Razeek
The ill-fated MV X-Press Pearl ship, had a large number of containers with plastic pellets in its inventory that had been imported over two months ago, owned by two of the country’s largest companies. Minister of Environment Mahinda Amaraweera said that the inventory of around 1,486 containers contained 193 items including plastic pellets, and that the environmental damage caused by the fire will last for another 20 years.
He mentioned that Sri Lanka has eight major companies that produce plastic and polythene-related products. “A significant portion of the plastic had washed into the ocean as a result of the ship’s sinking,” he said.
He went on to say that the environmental damage caused by the ship’s fire could not be quantified or compensated for in any way. These remarks were made by the Minister during a press conference held yesterday at the Ministry of Environment (10). According to him, a Marine Environmental Pollution Authority (MEPA) team had already been dispatched to investigate and collect necessary oil samples.
“Plastic pellets piling up on the beach were collected and loaded onto 40 containers to be destroyed; take into account how much plastic is transported into our country each year. Only about 10 per cent of this is recycled, with the rest dumped into the environment. Damage by the ship should be compensated, and all responsible parties should be identified and punished.
The CID has already begun an investigation into this matter on the President’s orders,” he said. He went on to say that the Minister of Justice revealed at the Cabinet meeting those efforts had already been made to file two cases in this regard. As Environment Minister, he stated that he does not believe the damage can be mitigated and that the carcasses of sea species such as turtles and dolphins are now floating in onto land, adding that all those responsible for the destruction should face legal consequences.
When asked whether the perpetrators had been identified, the Minister answered that no chemical spill on this ship had been reported to the Port or to the Harbour Master. “As a result, both the Captain of the ship and the local agent in that shipping firm are held accountable. Furthermore, the VDR device will reveal more details about who are responsible for this disaster,” he added.