Sri Lanka stands to lose US$6.4 billion if the authorities fail to institute legal action against X-press Feeders within the next 45 days to claim the second tranche of compensation.
This X-press Pearl disaster is the worst maritime disaster to have struck Sri Lanka. It has had a significant impact on Sri Lanka’s sensitive coastal environment, local communities, and economy.
The ship carrying toxic chemicals that caught fire off Colombo on May 20, 2021, is described as one of the biggest marine accidents in the world.
The Center for Environmental Justice points out that if the authorities, including the Attorney General, failed to take appropriate action, Sri Lanka may lose a massive compensation package that is as big as twice the bailout package granted by the IMF.
The Executive Director of the Centre for Environmental Justice says that there is a greater chance of the case being thrown out since the arbitration proceedings have been filed in Singapore.
In such an eventuality, the responsibility should be borne directly by the cabinet, politicians, and the Attorney General’s Department, said Hemantha Withanage, Executive Director of the Centre for Environmental Justice.
He said this while addressing a press conference held in Colombo Tuesday (April 4) on the environmental pollution of the X-press Pearl ship and its compensation.
Environmentalist Hemantha Withanage, who spoke further, said that according to the study conducted by his institute, the total damage caused by the ship exceeded 10 billion dollars, and the environmental pollution caused could last for 100 to 500 years.
“80,000 metric tons of pollutants have been added to the sea from 1486 containers on the ship. Only 1474 metric tons have been collected. The damage has not yet been calculated. The decisions given by the five appointed committees have so far not been disclosed.
However, the country has faced difficulties getting even the 6.4 billion dollars requested as the second installment. The politicians and the cabinet are responsible if this happens.
If the compensation case is not filed before May 14, all the efforts will be in vain.
Since this is the world’s largest chemical marine disaster, he says that this should be considered yet another “Chernobyl” disaster or “Bhopal” tragedy.
He said that not only the Center for Environmental Justice but also the government’s Marine Pollution Control Authority are against the case being assigned for arbitration in Singapore.
According to the law of Sri Lanka, the civil compensation must be filed in a lawsuit within two years, which will be completed on May 20.