By: Staff Writer
Colombo (LNW): The insurers of the ‘X-Press Pearl’ ship, which sank off the western coast of Sri Lanka after being gutted in a massive fire two years ago, have made an interim payment to the Sri Lankan Government.
This payment has been made in order to cover the cost incurred by the Maritime Environment Protection Authority (MEPA) for the beach clean-up operations of the country and compensation for the fishermen affected by the maritime disaster, says the Minister of Justice, Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe.
Accordingly, he said that the Sri Lanka Treasury has received USD 890,000 and Rs. 16 million as interim payment for costs incurred by MEPA and compensation for affected fisherfolks.
“This amount has been provided as an interim payment for compensating the fishermen and for the costs incurred by the Maritime Environment Protection Authority for cleaning up the coastline of the country due to the X-Press Pearl fire”, he added.
Sri Lanka has received $2.5 million in the third interim payment in September 2022 for the sinking of the X-Press Pearl cargo ship in June 2021, giving it a total of just $7.85 million for the worst maritime disaster in the country’s history.
Sri Lanka witnessed what is considered one of the worst marine environmental disasters after the Singapore-flagged container ship, only three months after being commissioned, caught fire some 16 kilometres off Colombo on May 20, 2021, while transporting 1,500 containers including 25 tonnes of nitric acid.
The fire that continued for nearly two weeks resulted in a massive spillage of damaged containers, microplastics, plastic pellets, chemicals and other harmful substances into the sea.
X-Press Feeders, former operators of the container ship ‘X-Press Pearl’, through the vessel owner’s P&I insurers, have made two further payments to the Sri Lankan government for claims relating to beach clean-up operations.
The payments totaling USD 878,650.53 and LKR 16,315,451.05 relate specifically to claims lodged by the Marine Environment Protection Authority of Sri Lanka in relation to beach cleaning and rehabilitation works in the aftermath of the sinking of the X-Press Pearl.
Resolution of these claims was discussed in recent meetings between a Sri Lankan Government delegation and representatives of the ship owners and their insurers in Singapore on the 18th and 19th of July 2023.
Assessments on the payment of further claims are ongoing, with all legitimate claims being considered.
Meanwhile, a caretaker tug remains at the site monitoring the situation until the conclusion of the southwest monsoon season, when work will recommence to lift the remaining fore section of the wreck and transport it to a certified decommissioning facility for dismantling, recycling, and disposal.