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Sri Lanka awaits salvage of X-Press Pearl wreck to make second damage claim

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ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka is awaiting the removal of the sunken wreck of MV X-Press Pearl, which caught fire and sank off Colombo Port to make a second environmental damage claim, an official said.

China-based Shanghai Salvage was hired to remove the wreck in February 2021. It was originally expected to be removed in 120 days but bad weather had delayed the activity.

“The second interim claim is pending until the wreck is removed,” Dharshani Lahandapura told Chairperson of Marine Environment Protection Authority, (MEPA) told EconomyNext.

“We cannot do anything to prepare a final report since we assume the pollution is happening even now at the moment.

On May 20, 2021, Singapore flagged container vessel MV X-Press Pearl, caught fire spilling chemicals and plastic pellets in to the sea.

Sri Lanka has received 40 million dollars from insurers in an interim claim.

“The vessel had nitric acid, caustic soda, and some other chemicals which are actually used for personal products like perfume,” Lahandapura said.

“We had electric and electronic equipment, and had lithium in the container which is highly hazardous.

“The evacuation is happening now at the moment. They have cut the ship into two pieces and differentially floated one part.”

An expert committee appointed by the government had warned that more damage could occur during salvage if material inside the ship spills into the sea, Sri Lanka’s Justice Ministry said in a statement. (Colombo/ Feb 01/2023)

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