X-Press Feeders urged to speed up tracing bunker oil
By Sulochana Ramiah Mohan
The Government has urged the X-Press Feeder operators to speed up the process of finding out whether there was bunker oil or not in the 322MT sunken ship, before a worse ecological disaster occurs. A grey sheen has been observed coming out of the vessel and water samples are currently being tested.
Inspections thus far show that discolouration of the sea has been apparent since the vessel’s stern became submerged and the remnants of the cargo in the 1,486 containers that were onboard were exposed to water.
SLPA Chairman Gen Daya Ratnayake told Ceylon Today they have urged the company’s salvors and divers to expedite investigations before a major oil spill occurs in the ocean, which otherwise could be one of the worst ecological disasters to take place in Sri Lanka and possibly in the Southern coast of India as well.
According to the Sri Lanka Navy, diving seems to be difficult due to the discoloured water, which made it difficult to see and also the rough seas prevailing these days. The entire operation was up to the X-Press Feeder Company, to clear the mess, said Gen. Ratnayake. Meanwhile, the X-Press Feeder operators of the container ship ‘X-Press Pearl’, confirm that the situation on site was under observation with no signs of debris and no confirmed reports of fuel oil pollution so far. The ship’s aft portion remains on the seabed at a depth of about 21 metres and the front portion remains afloat and is reported as being stable.
Sri Lankan Navy divers have found no evidence of a breach to the ships fuel oil tanks and observations from the Salvors who remain on scene with the Sri Lankan Navy and Indian Coastguard said there was no noticeable oil spill.
Representatives of ITOPF and Oil Spill Response are monitoring updates from the scene and remain on standby to be deployed in case of any reported spill. The salvors will remain on scene to deal with any possible debris supported by the Sri Lankan Navy and the Indian Coast Guard, who have oil spill response capabilities were also on standby, the vessel operators said.