Environmentalists sue Sri Lanka government, MV X-Press Pearl operator over ship wreck

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Fire stricken Singapore registered MV X-Press Pearl cargo ship (File Photo)
Fire stricken Singapore registered MV X-Press Pearl cargo ship (File Photo)

Colombo [Sri Lanka], June 5 (ANI): A group of climate and fishermen activists in Sri Lanka has filed a lawsuit against the government and operator of MV X-Press Pearl over the ship wreck that caused severe damage to the environment.

Colombo Page reported that the Center for Environmental Justice (CEJ), an environmental rights group, and fishermen's activists filed a fundamental rights petition in the Supreme Court on Friday against the government and the operators of the MV X-Press Pearl, over the environmental damage caused by the ship's fire.

The petitioners alleged that local authorities should have been able to prevent the fire onboard the MV X-Press Pearl, which was carrying hazardous chemicals and plastics and requested that necessary steps be taken to detain the ship's captain and crew and that appropriate criminal and civil action be taken against the ship's owners and their agents.

The petitioners also called on the government to make relevant laws and regulations to prevent such disasters in the future. The CEJ said the crew of the ship knew of an acid leak on May 11, long before entering Sri Lankan waters, and local authorities should not have allowed the vessel in.

The CEO of the company that owns the X-Press Pearl ship expressed his regret over the incident while participating in a foreign media conference. "Due to the existing travel restrictions, the company could not provide the necessary personnel to carry out tasks such as cleaning to minimize the damage, but had already taken steps to provide the necessary mechanical facilities," he said.

The petitioners request the apex court to instruct the respondents to pay compensation to the fishermen and the fishing industry and compensate for losses incurred by the tourism industry and those involved in the tourism industry in the affected areas.

The petition requests the authorities to assess the potential and health implications for the public by appointing an expert committee and to submit such preliminary and final reports to the courts and instruct the authorities to take the necessary action as recommended therein, in accordance with the provisions of the Prevention of Marine Pollution Act No. 35 of 2008 or other laws, and instructing the authorities to take necessary steps to obtain compensation.

As per the news website, the petitioners further requested the court to direct 11th respondent, X-Express Feeders, and the 12th respondent C Consortium Lanka to dispose of plastic nurdles and other debris from the MV X-Press Pearl ship in an environmentally friendly manner or re-export the material.

A Singapore registered cargo ship had sunk off the coast of Sri Lanka this week during an attempt to tow the vessel to deeper waters. (ANI)

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