The X-Press Pearl – A Disaster of Unimaginable Proportions

After 12 days, the ship MV X-Press Pearl finally sank about 9.5 nautical miles from the Colombo harbour. It has not sunk fully because it is touching a coral bed. The ship had been burning from May 20; an explosion six days later brought disaster in the form of small white plastic pellets spread around almost one third of the coastline from Galle to Kalpitiya. The pellets are low density polyethylene plastic nurdles.

The busy East-West shipping route passes six to ten nautical miles south of the country. More than 60,000 ships ply this route annually carrying two thirds of the world’s oil and half its container shipments. Although there are thousands of ships passing by Sri Lanka every day, major ship accidents are rare. However, the fire on X-Press Pearl is the second accident during the last 10 months.

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