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Wednesday July 24th, 2024

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)

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Sri Lanka presidential candidate cash deposits not updated in 43 years: MP

MP Dullas Alahapperuma

ECONOMYNEXT — The cash deposits Sri Lanka’s presidential candidates are required to pay have not been revised in 43 years, opposition MP Dullas Alahapperuma said, calling for a significant increase in order to save money and to prevent proxy candidates.

Alahapperuma told parliament on Wednesday July 24 that, as per the Presidential Elections Act No. 15 of 1981, a candidate nominated by a recognised political party has to deposit only 50,000 rupees while an independent candidate, or a candidate nominated by any other party or by an elector, must pay only 75,000 rupees.

The MP said the cabinet of former president Gotabaya Rajapaksa had approved an amendment to the act to increase these amounts.

“The election commission proposed that this be increased to 2.5 million rupees for political parties and 3 million for independent candidates. This was a pertinent proposal. There were 35 candidates who contested the last election,” he said.

The Act notes that “Where the number of votes polled by any candidate does not exceed one-eighth of the total number of votes polled at the election, the deposit made in respect of such candidate shall be declared forfeit and shall be transferred by the Commissioner from the deposit account to the Consolidated Fund, and in every other case the deposit shall be returned to the person who made the deposit, as soon as may be after the result of the election is declared.”

At the 2019 presidential election, said Alahapperuma, the deposits made by all candidates besides the top two contenders were transferred to the Consolidated fund.

“The number of candidates might be 80 or 85 this election. Many candidates have no basis for contesting, and it costs a vast sum of money to print ballots and other expenses, not to mention the time consumed for counting votes. This is not just to prevent proxy parties from contesting but also to save a lot of national wealth,” he said.

Leader of the House Susil Premajayantha responding to Alahapperuma said, however, that it would not be possible to pass the proposed amendment in time for the 2024 presidential election.

“The election commission made this proposal some time ago. But we know that to gazette a bill, we need to first draft the bill, the cabinet has to decide on it, send it back to the Legal Draftsman, and receive clearance from the Attorney General. So there is no time to bring this amendment for the upcoming presidential election. You can propose it at the next one,” he said. (Colombo/Jul24/2024)

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Sri Lanka deaf driver license project to be expanded islandwide

ECONOMYNEXT – A pilot project that allowed hearing-impaired persons to obtain light-vehicle driving licenses has been successful and will be rolled out island-wide, Sri Lanka’s Motor Traffic Department said.

The project was implemented in the Gampaha District initially where 50 licenses were provided to drivers who qualified.

The project was expanded to the Kurunegala District, where 150 drivers obtained licences. The drivers were given a probation period.

“Actually, this was a very successful project. It has been almost a year and we haven’t received a single complaint yet,” Motor Traffic Department Commissioner – Driving Licence Wasantha Ariyarathna told reporters on Wednesday.

“We plan to roll it out to all 25 districts islandwide.”

The issuance of driver’s licenses to hearing impaired persons will be done on a bi-annual renewal basis.

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Sri Lanka election commission to announce poll date before weekend

File photo of polling booth

ECONOMYNEXT — Sri Lanka’s Election Commission will announce the date of the election before the end of this week, commission chairman R M L Ratnayake told a private news network.

Ratnayake told the privately owned NewsFirst Wednesday July 24 morning that the gazette notification in this regard would be published before the weekend.

“As I stated before, we will announce the date before the end of this week. There is no backtracking at all. We have selected a date that is nearest and most suitable after September 17 for the election,” he said.

Ratnayake told the media at a press conference on July 16 that the commission will publish the notice announcing nomination and election dates before the end of July.

“Our first task is to publish the notice on the election. From the day the notice is published, nominations have to be accepted between 16 and 21 days. The election should be held within four to six weeks of from the day of accepting nominations,” said Ratnayake.

“The candidates must have enough time to do their campaigns after handing over nominations. Time is also needed to cast postal votes and carry out other duties. The election date should also be convenient for the voters. For the acceptance of nominations, we have to consider cultural factors unique to a country like Sri Lanka. Some people consider things like the Rahu period. So we have to find a date that is suitable for everyone,” he said.

Ratnayake said the election commission intends to issue the notice before the end of July.

“This notice will contain the nominations date and the election date. We plan to then hold the election on the most suitable day after September 17.

“Some people had suggested that we have delayed this to end July to the benefit of one party or another. I want to point out that we can delay we can extend it to August 20 if needed,” he said. (Colombo/Jul24/2024)

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