Sri Lanka seeks to speed up X-Press Pearl withdrawal
Sri Lankan government working to speed up container ship wreckage X-Press Pearl of its coasts while continuing its efforts to monitor pollution and environmental damage as well as to receive compensation. A report from the government committee formed to investigate the damage and oversee the rescue operations details efforts that are expected to continue until 2022.
According to a copy of the report obtained by Sri Lankan news outlet News First, arrangements for the removal of the wreckage are being coordinated with the government of Singapore, where the vessel was registered, as well as the owners of the vessel. and the Sri Lankan High Commission in Singapore. . Singapore authorities said a removal plan was being developed in consultation with a group of rescue experts, naval architects and rescue engineers. Ongoing efforts include modeling of the submarine area and topography in the area around the wreck. the X-Press Pearl has settled and remains seated upright on the partially exposed sea floor above sea level. The information gathered is used to formulate a methodology for the removal of the carcass.
International rescue experts and the P&I Club have indicated that the withdrawal is unlikely to begin until the end of the current monsoon season. However, the Sri Lankan authorities are negotiating to speed up the deportation process.
In the meantime, an oil sheen was seen coming from the wreckage, but after consulting with experts, the decision was made not to use chemicals to treat the sheen. Experts have suggested that the chemicals are more dangerous and that the current thin sheen dissolves in the environment. However, chemicals and equipment to tackle a larger oil spill remain on hold as crews continue to monitor the wreckage.
Drones and underwater vehicles are used to monitor X-Press Pearl and the Sri Lanka Marine Environment Protection Authority receives reports twice a day. Resolve Marine was hired as an acting caretaker on site and Sri Lankan Navy divers also inspected the wreckage.
Using a side-scan investigation undertaken by the Indian Navy and the National Aquatic Resources Research and Development Agency, details are being gathered on the extent of damage to the two main fishing areas. The ship’s insurers also hired a surveying company to undertake a broader analysis of the area. More than 175 square miles, however, remain closed to all fishing.
On land, they also continue to take daily surveys of the coast in search of pollution. To date, the report says they have collected 889 metric tons of waste, which has been packed into 42 containers and 1,200 jumbo bags. However, the teams continue to find pollution and in particular the plastic packaging materials that were transported on the X-Press Pearl.
Sri Lanka has assembled an international team, including the American law firm Arent Fox, to assist it in its compensation claims. To date, two provisional claims have been filed and the country has received approximately $ 3.6 million as part of a first provisional payment.
the X-Press Pearl was carrying 1,486 containers from the Middle East with stops in India and Sri Lanka on its trip to Singapore. A cargo fire was discovered on May 20 and despite the initial success, the fire reignited and consumed the three-month ship. Fire crews from Sri Lanka, India and private resources spent more than a week fighting the blaze, but the ship sank off Colombo after the government ordered an attempt to move it from mooring towards deep water. The resulting environmental damage is considered the worst in Sri Lanka’s history and is expected to take years to recover.