The Nightmare Is Not Over. X-Press Pearl Is Sinking, Might Cause an Oil Spill

Sri Lanka's environmental disaster seems to grow and grow, as the MV X-Press Pearl container ship with a hazardous cargo of 350 metric tons of oil on board now started to sink off Colombo's main harbor.
X-Press Pearl Container Ship Sinking 1 photo
Photo: BBC News/YouTube
The ship caught fire almost two weeks ago, on May 21, while at Colombo anchorage, after an explosion occurred one day earlier, causing containers filled with nitric acid and other chemicals to tumble into the water. The X-Press Pearl was loaded with almost 1,500 containers containing 25 tons of nitric acid, cosmetics, vehicle parts, auto products, 297 tons of Heavy Fuel Oil, and 51 tons of Marine Fuel Oil, as stated by its operator, X-Press Feeders.

The vessel’s operator hasn’t offered specific details on why the fire started, but preliminary investigations point toward a chemical reaction.

The 25-member crew was evacuated safely, but all fishing on a 50-mile (80 km) distance of the coastline has been suspended, leaving 5,600 fishing boats docked. Two of the crew members suffered some leg injuries but are now safe and on their way to recovery.

The maritime nightmare might get even worse now, as the ship started to sink, worrying authorities of a potential oil spill into the Indian Ocean. The vessel has begun to sink after an unsuccessful endeavor to tow it to deeper waters.

The X-Press Pearl was built this year in Singapore and was operated by X-Press Feeders. It was around 610 ft (185 m) long. The ship left from the port of Hazira, India, and was supposed to arrive in Singapore via Colombo.

X-Press Feeders stated that there are no reports of oil pollution so far, and the vessel is now sitting at a depth of 68 feet (21 meters). Sri Lanka’s Navy and the Indian Coast Guard are ready to take action in case of any possible debris.

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About the author: Cristina Mircea
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Cristina’s always found writing more comfortable to do than speaking, which is why she chose print over broadcast media in college. When she’s not typing, she also loves riding non-motorized two-wheelers, going on hikes with her dog, and rocking her electric guitars.
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