An environmental disaster occurred when a cargo ship recently caught on fire and severely affected the beaches of Sri Lanka. They are now covered in hazardous plastic pellets, which could have a devastating effect on the ecosystem and wildlife.
The smoke was first observed on May 20th coming from the cargo hold. On May 21st, a fire broke out on the deck and spread over the following few days. The 13-member crew and 12-member firefighting crew were evacuated from the ship on May 24th.
The fire raged overnight, destroying 81 containers with hazardous items, including the 25 tons of nitric acid on board. The ship was also carrying 327 tons of heavy fuel oil, 56 tons of marine fuel oil, and 86 tons of plastic pellets, which have created a white carpet over the beaches.
Did you know that 100,000 marine mammals die annually as a result of plastic pollution? That is an alarming statistic, especially since experts called this horrific incident one of the country’s worst environmental disasters.
People are being warned not to get in close contact with the pellets as they may be contaminated with chemicals. The authorities are also prohibiting fishing and are analyzing dead wildlife found on the shore.
World pollution statistics reveal that 100,000 chemicals are produced commercially, polluting oceans by either accidents during transport or by leaking into the atmosphere.
Any of those scenarios will be extremely difficult to recover from, and it could have devastating effects on our ecosystem.
Sri Lanka’s Marine Environment Protection and military are attempting to clean up the pellets and prevent them from recirculating back in the water.
The length of the cleanup operation is unknown. However, it could be prolonged by Sri Lanka’s nationwide COVID-19 lockdown, which is keeping volunteers away.