FR filed seeking an independent investigation into X-Press Pearl vessel | Daily News

FR filed seeking an independent investigation into X-Press Pearl vessel

The Center for Environmental Justice today filed a fundamental rights petition in Supreme Court seeking an order directing the authorities to conduct an independent and impartial investigation into the fire on MV X-Press Pearl vessel.

This petition had been filed by Center for Environmental Justice (CEJ), its Executive Director Director Hemantha Withanage and two others including a traditional fisherman living in Negombo.

Minister of Ports and Shipping Rohitha Abeygunawardena, Marine Environment Protection Authority, Sri Lanka Ports Authority, Chairman of Port Authority General (Retd) Daya Ratnayake, Director General of Merchant Shipping A.W.Seneviratne, Central Environmental Authority, State Minister Nalaka Godahewa, Environment Minister Mahinda Amaraweera, X-Press Feeders Company Sea Consortium Lanka (Pvt) Ltd, Attorney General and several others were named as respondents in the petition.

The petitioners are further seeking an order directing the Attorney General to prosecute all State Officials who have willfully failed to perform their statutory and regulatory duties.

The petitioners are also seeking an order directing X-Press Feeders Company (Represented by its local Agent Sea Consortium Lanka (Pvt) Ltd) and Sea Consortium Lanka (Pvt) Ltd to pay compensation for the environmental damage and pollution caused to the marine and coastal ecology of Sri Lanka and the atmosphere under the ‘Polluter Pays Principle’ (PPP).

The petitioners state that the blazing ship and the chemical spill and plastic pellets have already caused untold, irreversible and irremediable damage to Sri Lanka’s marine ecosystem and pristine beaches, including popular tourist destinations, whose beaches are thickly coated in plastic pellets. These plastic pellets used to make plastic bags are fatal to marine life and dead sea turtles and fish have already begun washing up on beaches and fears are arising of an unprecedented catastrophe.

The petitioners state that on May 20, 2021, the, ‘MV X-Press Pearl’ which was en route from the Indian port of Hazira to Singapore, with 1,486 containers caught fire as it waited to enter the Colombo Port and remained anchored some 9.5 Nautical Miles Northwest of Colombo, waiting to enter the Port.

The Petitioners state that apart from the 325 metric tonnes of bunker oil, the vessel was loaded with 1,486 containers carrying 25 tonnes of hazardous Nitric Acid, caustic soda, Sodium Methylate, plastic, lead ingots, lubricant oil, quick lime and highly reactive and inflammable chemicals such as Sodium Methodoxide, High Density Polyethylene (HDPE), Low Density Polyethylene (LDPE) “Lotrene”, Vinyl Acetate, Methanol, bright yellow sulphur, urea and cosmetics.

The Petitioners state that Sri Lanka is in an enviable location in the Indian Ocean. The busy East-West shipping route passes just six to ten Nautical Miles south of the island. More than 60,000 ships ply this route annually, carrying two-thirds of the world’s oil and half of all container shipments.

The petition had been filed through senior Counsel Ravindranath Dabare and Nimmi Sanjeewani. 

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