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Ecological disaster caused by MV X-Press Pearl takes its toll on marine life

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By Ifham Nizam

The Department of Wildlife Conservation, and environmentalists yesterday  expressed concern about the increasing deaths of marine species following the ecological disaster caused by the Singapore-flagged MV X-Press Pearl along the South Western coast.

The fire-ravaged partly sunken vessel released its hazardous chemical cargo into the vulnerable sea bed off the Colombo port.

A senior scientist expressed concern about the endangered Dugongs or sea cows.

Dugong is restricted to sea grass habitats.

Studies indicate that sea grass is disappearing at an alarming rate of 110 square kilo meters per year, largely, due to human activities, and increased acidic levels due to chemical spill from the stricken ship, would cause further problems.  

More than 15 turtles, a couple of dolphin, a number of seabirds, and several fish species have been washed ashore dead following the fire that broke out aboard the vessel.

The Wildlife Conservation Department said it was conducting investigations to ascertain what had caused the deaths of the sea creatures.

Under the Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance, all sea turtles and their shells, eggs etc., are fully protected. Therefore, their carcasses were sent to the Government Analyst to conduct further investigations, on a court order.

The turtles were found washed ashore at Uswetakeiyawa, Panadura, Unawatuna, Wellawatte, Moratuwa and Induruwa beaches. Two turtles found with injuries had been found on the Unawatuna beach, the Department said.

Most of the turtles found dead on the beaches off Panadura and Wellawatte had their carapaces broken. One dead turtle at the Unawatuna beach had suffered injury.

A senior marine scientist said, “We have recommend that when the Attorney General’s Department take up the issue of compensation.:

The Marine Environment Protection Authority said it had already sought compensation from the company that owns the ‘X-Press Pearl’ container carrier for the economic damages caused by its fire.

Chairperson of MEPA Attorney-at-Law Dharshani Lahandapura, on Sunday, said that compensation had been sought through the Attorney General.

Besides, compensation for the environmental damage caused by the fire is also expected to be sought from the company, she added.

About 40 containers that fell into the sea from the vessel and their toxic contents released into the environment have been removed so far, she said.



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Employees’ Trust Fund Act No. 46 of 1980 to be amended

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The Cabinet of Ministers approved the proposal presented by the Hon. President in his capacity as the Minister of Finance, Economic Stabilization and National Policies to instruct the legal draftsman to prepare a bill to amend the Employees’ Trust Provident Fund Act No. 46 of 1980 enabling to provide health insurance similar to Agrahara health insurance to private sector employees.

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Cabinet nod for MOU between the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka and the Republic of Maldives on Cultural Cooperation

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The Cabinet of Ministers approved the proposal presented by the Minister of Buddha Sasana, Religious and Cultural affairs to sign a cultural cooperation agreement between the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka and the Maldives. (The draft agreement has received the clearance of the Attorney General and the approval of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs).

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Outgoing Bulgarian Ambassador calls on the President

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(pic PMD)

Mrs. Eleonora Dimitrova, Bulgaria’s Ambassador to Sri Lanka, met President Ranil Wickremesinghe at the Presidential Secretariat on Monday (06), before departing for her home country upon completing her tenure in Sri Lanka.

 

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