For 16 days now, officers of the Sri Lanka Navy (SLN), together with the Sri Lanka Coast Guard and the Marine Environment Protection Authority (MEPA), have been scouring one of the beaches worst affected by the MV X-Press Pearl tragedy.
“Since 27 May to date, officers have been deployed almost every day to the Sarakkuwa-Pamunugama beach stretch in Negombo to collect debris and waste washed ashore from the vessel. It is one of the worst affected stretches,” Captain Indika De Silva of the SLN told Roar Media. On average, the Navy Spokesperson said, about 550 officers are deployed daily to the beach stretch to collect waste and debris. “We will continue until it is over,” he said.
The officers deployed for the beach clean-up are required to be in full personal protective equipment (PPE) for sometimes over 12 hours a day. “The suits are due to COVID-19 regulations as well as to avoid any kind of chemical contamination,” Captain De Silva explained.
As of today, the MEPA has collected approximately 1,075 tonnes of material, including thousands of tiny plastic nurdles, that washed ashore from the 43 containers transported by the now sinking MV X-Press Pearl. The SLN, meanwhile, has collected over 600 tonnes of waste as of 5 June.
By the end of May, the MEPA and SLN had carried out over 140 beach clean-up operations along the Western Province coastline. The operations are expected to continue until the beaches have been cleared of all waste material.
Cover credit: Al Jazeera/Aanya Wipulasena