Environmental activists sued the Sri Lankan government last week after MV X-Press Pearl carrying plastics and dangerous chemicals burned off the coast in the Indian Sea for about two weeks.
Plastic can take between 500 to 1000 years to decompose. It is likely to be dragged by ocean currents to shores up to hundreds of kilometres away, impacting humans and wildlife. While plastic may be the most visible impact till now, it is not the most dangerous kind.
The Center for Environmental Justice (CEJ), and fishermen’s activists have filed a lawsuit against the operators of the ship and the government regarding the massive damage caused by the ship’s fire.
The activists have also called for an independent inquiry into the environmental disaster. The petitioners also alleged that the local authorities should have been able to predict and prevent the fire onboard the cargo ship.
In the meanwhile, Sri Lanka has been dealing with a growing marine ecological disaster as significant amounts of plastic pellets, harmful chemicals, and oil from the sinking ship cover its coastline. The blanket of residue that littered the once famed beaches has been described as plastic “snow.”
Hemantha Withaanage, CEJ Executive Director, said that this is going to be long-lasting environmental pollution. Experts suggest that the pellets in Sri Lankan waters could travel as far as India.
The petitioners request the top court to instruct respondents to pay compensation to the fishing industry and compensate for losses incurred by those in the tourism industry, especially in the affected areas.
MV X-Press Pearl’s owners confess that they could not troubleshoot the problem because India and Qatar refused to allow the vessel to dock. The country’s officials believe the fire that had broken out on May 20 was brought about by leaking acid.
A hearing date is yet to be set.