- Captain and senior officers to be produced at Colombo Fort Magistrate today
- Several dolphin and sea turtle carcases washed ashore along the western coastline
By Asiri Fernando
The Captain and senior officers of the wrecked Singaporean flagged container vessel MV-X-Press Pearl will appear in front of the Colombo Fort Magistrates today (7 June), as the criminal investigation into what experts are calling the “worst marine environmental disaster faced by Sri Lanka to date” continues.
The three senior members of the vessel were issued summons to appear before court this morning.
According to the Police, the Voyage Data Recorder (VDR) of the ill-fated vessel has been handed over to the detectives for analysis. The VDR is commonly referred to as the ship’s black box. It was recovered from the vessel by technicians of the Merchant Shipping Secretariat, assisted by Navy divers on Saturday (5 June).
“VDR is an instrument safely installed on a ship to continuously record vital information related to the operation of a vessel. VDR data on a ship can be used as vital information during an accident investigation,” the SLPA explained.
“The VDR has records to the vessels communications. An analysis of the communications between the vessels Master (Captain) and the vessels operators and the vessels agents in Colombo, will enable the investigators to get a better understanding of when the leak from a container was detected, reported and what advice and orders were received by the Captain regarding it,” Police Spokesman, DIG Ajith Rohana explained.
He said that the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) will seek a court order to submit the VDR to the Government analyst, in order to obtain a technical report on its data. According to DIG Rohana, the CID has recorded over 20 statements from the 25-member crew, DIG Rohana said. Environmentalists have expressed concern about a possible oil spill from the fire-stricken vessel compounding the pollution already caused by debris from the vessel, which includes tons of plastic nurdles. The vessel is estimated to have held around 300 MT of oil and petroleum products when it caught fire, the Colombo Harbour Master cited expert opinion that most of the oil aboard may have burnt off during several days of intense fire. However, a thorough examination of the vessel is needed to verify the status of the oil on board.
Several dolphin and sea turtle carcases were reported washed ashore along the western coastline following the wrecking of the MV X-Press Pearl last week. The National Aquatic Resources Research and Development Agency (NARA) last week said that it could take weeks, if not months, to fully assess the impact on the environment. The MV X-Press Pearl continues to settle down slowly at a depth of 21 meters at the Colombo anchorage, with the vessels’ stern sinking to the seabed following a failed attempt by the Salvor to tow her last week. The effort to douse her flames resulted in a 13-day joint operation by the SLPA, Navy, Coast Guard, Air Force, the Indian Coast Guard and Salvors.