"Hundreds of dead turtles continue to wash ashore in Sri Lanka, almost two
months after a newly built container ship caught fire while anchored off
The X-Press Pearl was carrying 1,486 containers and burned for two weeks. It
then sunk in early June, causing one of Sri Lanka’s greatest environmental
Chemicals contaminated waters, killing marine life and destroying breeding
grounds. The contaminants include nitric acid, sodium dioxide, copper and lead,
and tonnes of plastic nurdles (pellets) which can take centuries to decompose.
Local communities entirely dependent on fishing for their livelihoods have been
ordered not to fish. Now, the environment faces the threat of an oil spill,
which authorities, with international assistance, are desperately trying to
Local police have launched a criminal investigation. Meanwhile, the Centre for
Environmental Justice has filed a fundamental rights petition in the Sri Lankan
In the wake of the disaster, many commentators have sought to explain what went
wrong. But these have largely missed a broader, though crucial, issue this
disaster exposed: the tension between economic development and environmental
protection. This makes shipping a realm of ultra-free trade distant from, and
sometimes untouched by, regulations.
I’ll help unravel what went so drastically wrong, and how we can try to prevent
similar disasters in future."
*** Xanni ***
Chief Scientist, Xanadu
Partner, Glass Wings
Manager, Serious Cybernetics