An Echelon Media Company
Monday December 5th, 2022

Sri Lanka in biggest ever nurdle hunt after X-Press Pearl spill, volunteer hunters arrested

OPERATION NURDLE: Sri Lanka Air Force personnel mopping up plastic granules spilled from X-Press Pearl

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s state authorities are engaged in the biggest nurdle hunt in the country’s history following a spill from X-Press Pearl though at least eight volunteer hunters have been arrested by police probably in the world’s first, amid a Coronavirus lockdown.

Nurdles, little plastic pellets the size of a lentil or wheat grain is the raw material used in factories to mould plastic goods and polythene sheets.

Tonnes of the white nurdles have turned up on the beaches of Sri Lanka after several containers toppled off X-Press Pearl when a fire blazed through the ship amid gusting winds and the stricken vessel developed a list.

Police arrested at least eight nurdle hunters who took sacks of nurdles before they broke up. Some braved possible chemical contamination of seawater from the burning vessel to take the plastic granules out, visuals showed.

Sri Lanka had planned to deal with debris from the ship, Chairman of Sri Lanka’s Central Environment Siripala Amarasinghe Authority told reporters, though, on the first day, members of the public unexpectedly jumped into the effort.

The clean up was progressing well now he said.

“The honour should go to the tri-force who helped us and also the general public,” he said. “Because in the first 24 hours – rather unfortunately on the 26th – members of the public disregarding government requests not to approach the debris, they got into this for their private reasons.

“So we had to stop that by making appeals.”

The clean up was deployed in earnest from June 27. He said Sri Lanka’s Coast Conservation Department and Sri Lanka’s military also assisted by CEA officials had recovered all debris.

Among the debris were seen 25-kilogram plastic granules made by Qatar-based Qapco.

Television visuals showed volunteer salvors taking away 25 kg packs of latrine branded polyethene granules made by Qatar-based Qapco.

Oil-producing nations are key producers of plastics. The granules or nurdles can accidentally spill during transport. Plastic pellet containers are usually carried on deck for safety.

Police said at least eight nurdle hunters or in maritime terminology volunteer salvors were arrested. Volunteer salvors belong to a long tradition in seafaring.

A claim has to be submitted to the receiver of the wreck who may give part of the salvaged items to the volunteer salvor. If the danger is high, a large portion may be given, analysts familiar with international practice say.


Cargo rush: Sri Lanka police arrest eight for collecting debris off a burning container ship

Amarasena said about 34 containers of debris were so far collected by Sri Lanka authorities and there was also sand in them and it was too early to give a count.

Environmentalist jargon generally refers to nurdles not in tonnes or kilograms, but in hundreds of millions or billions of pellets.

In September 2020, a 743 million nurdle spill was calculated in the Mississippi River.


Nurdle spill cleanup is ‘too little, too late’ as plastic pellets continue to spread, gather in drifts

Nurdle spill covers South African beaches in plastic

In Sri Lankan social media numbers such as several billions of nurdles have been mentions.

It is not clear what happened to the eight arrested nurdle hunters in the X-Pearl disaster.

However, they could also estimate the number of nurdles collected based on the likely number in a 25-kilogram bag and submit it to the website, which is supported by

The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Organization have provided guidance to, a community website where nurdle hunters could submit their finds after they are released from custody observers say.


The Nurdle Patrol: Citizen Scientists Fight Pollution, One Pellet at a Time

The nurdle hunters could put themselves on the map and possibly set 2021 by entering the data by estimating likely nurdles in a 25 kg pack into the website. (Colombo/June04/2021)

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Leave a Comment

Leave a Comment

Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Time right for elections, Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna ready to face any poll: Basil

File photo: SLPP national organiser Basil Rajapaksa

ECONOMYNEXT — The time has come for an election in Sri Lanka and the ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) is ready to face any election, SLPP national organiser Basil Rajapaksa said, dismissing claims that the party has come to fear elections in the face of growing unpopularity and increased factionalisation.

Speaking to reporters at an event held in Colombo Monday December 05 morning to mark the fourth anniversary of the party’s media centre, Rajapaksa handwaved off assertions that the SLPP has splintered in the wake of the mass protests that ousted his brother and former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

“No, our party hasn’t fragmented, not the way this cake was cut,” he said, pointing to the cake that was cut to celebrate the media centre’s anniversary.

“There may be some [dissenters], but we are with the people,” said Rajapaksa.

Political analysts, however, note that the once mighty SLPP has indeed fractured to at least four or five distinct factions. One group, according to party sources, is with President Ranil Wickremesinghe who is keen to involve younger SLPP legislators in his economic reform agenda. The second is with former Media Minister Dullas Alahapperuma who launched an unsuccessful bid for the presidency and was roundly defeated by Wickremesinghe at the July 19 presidential vote in parliament. The third group now sits as independent MPs in parliament, while a fourth faction are with former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, the SLPP patriarch.

There is another group that remains loyal to Basil Rajapaksa, though all but one SLPP legislator voted for the 21st amendment to the constitution that prohibited dual citizens from entering parliament. Rajapaksa, a dual citizen with US passport, recently returned to the island after a private visit to his second home.

The former finance minister, who resigned after a wave of protests that demanded his departure along with that of his presidential brother, for their alleged role in Sri Lanka’s prevailing currency crisis, the worst in decades, was in a jovial mood at the anniversary event on Monday and was seen heartily indulging reporters who were throwing loaded question after loaded question at him.

Asked about future plans of the SLPP, Rajapaksa quipped that they couldn’t be revealed to the media at this stage.

“However, time has come for an election. It’s difficult to say how it will be at present, but as a party, we’re ready to face any election,” he said.

Rajapaksa’s apparent confidence in facing an election is in direct contrast to speculation that the SLPP is banking on President Wickremesinghe’s refusal to dissolve parliament anytime soon. Opposition lawmakers have accused Wickremesinghe of providing sanctuary and promising security to the deeply unpopular party by not calling early elections.

“We have won every election we faced so far. We are thankful to the Sri Lankan people for that. If we were unable to meet their expectations 100 percent, we regret that. We will correct any shortcomings and will work to fulfill the people’s aspirations,” said Rajapaksa.

Asked if he is going to remain in active politics despite the blanket ban on dual citizens, the former minister said, again with a chuckle: “Active politics… well, I’m not in governance anymore. Governance [for me] has been banned by the 21st amendment. So no, I’m not in governance, but I am in politics,” he said.

Pressed about possibly entering parliament again, he said: “How can I?”

Nor is Rajapaksa saddened by the development, he claimed. “No, I’m happy about it,” he said.

The former two-time finance minister, noted for his clash of views with Wickremesinghe when the latter was invited by then President Gotabaya Rajapaksa for a round of discussions on economic recovery, was cautiously complimentary when asked about the new president. It was the SLPP’s backing that guaranteed Wickremesinghe his lifelong ambition.

“I think that selection was the correct one. We have maintained from the start that all of us in government or opposition must be able to freely engage in politics,” he said, referring to assurances that the president has purportedly given SLPP parliamentarians that they will not face the kind of retaliatory mob violence that engulfed the nation on May 09 after alleged SLPP goons attacked peaceful anti-government protestors in Colombo.

A reporter asked if Rajapaksa believes the incumbent president is capable of taking the country on the right path to recovery?

“The first task was accomplished, by allowing us to engage in politics and to get on the streets. There are economic and other issues, and we have high hopes that they will be resolved,” he said. (Colombo/Dec05/2022)

Continue Reading

Sri Lanka proposed power tariff not to recover past losses: Minister

ECONOMYNEXT – The government has not proposed a power tariff increase to recover past losses, Minister of Power and Energy Kanchana Wijesekera in response to a statement attributed the head of the power regulator commission.

“The proposal that was presented was for an automatic cost reflective tariff mechanism to be implemented to supply uninterrupted power & to recover the current cost of power supply,” Minister Wijesekera said in message.

“Govt has not proposed to recover past loses of CEB from a tariff revision…”

The cabinet of ministers had given the nod tariff revisions twice a year to prevent large losses from building up as in the past.

The Public Utilities Commission has disputed costs protected for the power utility saying the petroleum utility was keeping large margins in selling fuel.

The government in a budget for 2022 also proposed to tax surcharge to recover losses.

The regulator also disputed power demand forecasts.

Also read; Sri Lanka regulator disputes CEB costs, demand projections for 2023

The PUCSL cannot increase tariffs to recover past losses, Chairman Janaka Ratnayake said. (Colombo/Dec05/2022)

Continue Reading

Sri Lanka’s shares gain in mid market trade

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s shares edged up in mid day trade on Monday (05), continuing the positive run for seven straight sessions on news over a possible debt restructuring from Paris Club, analysts said.

All Share Price Index gained by 0.69% or 60.10 points to 8,829, while the most liquid shares gained by 0.96% or 26.59 points to 2,801.

“The market was pushed up over the news of a potential 10 year debt moratorium,” analysts said.

The Paris Club group of creditor nations has proposed a 10-year debt moratorium on Sri Lankan debt and 15 years of debt restructuring as a formula to resolve the island nation’s prevailing currency crisis. 

Related – Paris Club proposes 10-year moratorium in 15-year Sri Lanka debt re-structure: report

The market generated a revenue of 2.1 billion rupees.

Top gainers during 1130 hours were Expolanka, Browns Investment and LOLC.  (Colombo/Dec05/2022)


Continue Reading