Sri Lanka readies to sue owners of the fire-struck X-Press Pearl

A criminal investigation is underway over the fire on the ship, X-Press Pearl with all crew set to be interviewed.

Sri Lankan authorities said yesterday they will sue X-Press Feeders, the owners of the three-month old, Singapore-registered boxship which has burned for 11 straight days off the island’s west coast and caused some of its worst-ever marine pollution.

Sri Lanka’s Marine Environment Protection Authority (MEPA) said it met with attorney general Sanjaya Rajaratnam on Sunday to plan legal action against the owners of the vessel, its crew, as well as insurers.

“We have gone through the details and will be taking action against those responsible,” MEPA chairman Dharshani Lahandapura told reporters in Colombo.

She said the fallout from the blaze was the “worst marine pollution” Sri Lanka has ever suffered. The fire is thought to have started because of poorly packed acid in one container. As well as the environmental damage caused by the leaking nitric acid, tons of microplastics have been washing up on Sri Lanka’s coast, sparking a massive clean-up operation.

The fire is reportedly finally under control and the hull remains in tact, however it is clearly a constructive total loss.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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