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SL yet to ascertain nature of hazardous materials aboard Singapore cargo ship collided with Baltimore bridge

April 02, Colombo (LNW): Sri Lanka is yet to ascertain the nature of hazardous materials aboard the Singapore cargo ship Dali, chartered by Maersk, which collided with the Baltimore bridge on March 26, revealed an official statement.

The available information suggests that among the cargo are 57 containers containing materials falling under the International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code, comprising mainly corrosives, flammables, miscellaneous hazardous substances, and Class-9 hazardous materials, including explosives and lithium-ion batteries, contained within 56 containers.

However, the US National Transportation Safety Board is still analysing the ship’s manifest to determine the contents of its other 4,644 containers.

Before reaching Baltimore, the Dali made stops at New York and Norfolk, Virginia, the location of the world’s largest naval base.

Its next scheduled destination was Colombo, following a route around South Africa’s Cape of Good Hope, with an estimated travel duration of 27 days, anticipated to arrive shortly after the Sri Lankan New Year.

In response to queries regarding this matter, Keith Bernard, Chairman of the Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA), emphasised that ships are required to declare container contents 72 hours before arriving at the Colombo Port.

“The vessel is expected to arrive here on April 21, 2024. This implies that they should notify us by April 17 or thereabouts. Sufficient time is available.

Should hazardous items be declared within containers, we will implement protocols to isolate them accordingly.

As a major transshipment hub, we have established procedures for handling such containers. It is probable that these containers are intended for transshipment,” he explained.

When inquired about the protocol for containers intended for entry into the country, Bernard stated that clearance from the Defence Ministry and other relevant authorities would be sought.

However, Ajith Wijesundara, Deputy Director of the Central Environment Authority (CEA), indicated that it remains uncertain whether the ship carried containers containing hazardous waste or toxic substances.

He noted that, according to the Basel Convention, such wastes would not be permitted entry into the country.

The Basel Convention, concerning the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal, was adopted on March 22, 1989, and entered into force on May 5, 1992.

Wijesundara emphasised that toxic substances imported as raw materials are subject to guidelines and regulations.

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