A sinking cargo ship off the coast of Sri Lanka is causing an environmental disaster for the country that looks set to have long-term effects.
The X-Press Pearl caught fire on May 20 and burned for two weeks, but the fire appears to have mostly burned out. The crew was evacuated. The ship is now partially sitting on the seabed with its front settling down slowly.
Its cargo is the concern: The ship was carrying dangerous chemicals, including 25 tons of nitric acid and 350 tons of fuel oil. The ship's operator says oil has not spilled so far. But what's already having an impact on beaches nearby are the 78 metric tons of plastic called nurdles — the raw material used to make most types of plastic products.
Wave after wave of plastic pellets are washing ashore. The ship is about 5 miles from the nearest beach.
Also at The Guardian [theguardian.com].