Compensation for X-Press Pearl Disaster: MEPA seeks US$ 40 m as second instalment

By Sulochana Ramiah Mohan | Published: 2:00 AM Dec 9 2021
News Compensation for X-Press Pearl Disaster: MEPA seeks US$ 40 m as second instalment

By Sulochana Ramiah Mohan

The Marine Environment Protection Authority (MEPA) has submitted US$ 40 million as the second instalment of compensation from X-Press Feeders for environmental damage caused by the X-Press Pearl Disaster and the wreck of the container ship. The first instalment was a US$ 3.6 million interim payment made between 20 May and 3 June 2021.

MEPA Chairperson, Dharshani Lahandapura, told Ceylon Today that the interim report on environmental damage is nearing completion and that the report would be submitted to the Attorney General soon.

Lahandapura said the initial cost was US$ 40 million, of which US$ 3.6 million was paid, and that there is also a forecast that will be obtained as the assessments are completed.

She went on to say that Resolve Marine would remove the ship’s underwater debris and transport it to the Colombo Port’s Unity Container Terminal (UCT).

She also said the containers on the ship would be removed and relocated to the Hambantota Port yard. “The Shanghai Salvage Company (SCC) is attempting to recover the wreck soon and allow it to float, so that it can be towed to Hambantota Port,” she said.

This is a one-of-a-kind mission, and those involved have said it is one of the most dangerous and critical operations they have ever undertaken, she pointed out.

Scrap will be disposed of in Sri Lanka. X-Press Feeders owns the rest of the wreck, she added. She went on to say that the debris would be collected at a yard in Wattala.

MEPA has imposed two conditions prior to the wreck’s removal. “We said our priority is to conduct a proper risk assessment and an oil assessment on the wreck,” she said, adding that 5-10 litres of bunker oil leak into the sea every day.

Concerning cargo compensation from shippers, she said they could not seize the ship and own the wreck. “If we do that, the ship’s owner will have no liability, and Sri Lanka will be responsible for everything.” The onus would be on us. Those traders who have lost their goods can seek compensation from insurance companies. While removing the wreck, we believe that the weather and timing are critical. “If we seize the ship, the wreck removal will be delayed, and we will have to wait for better weather,” she explained. The AG, however, rejected the plea of seizing the wreck.   

By Sulochana Ramiah Mohan | Published: 2:00 AM Dec 9 2021

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