ECONOMYNEXT -Planet savers in Sri Lanka’s western coast were carting away plastic from a cargo fallen off a burning container vessel washing ashore before they had a chance to pollute the environment, footage broadcast on local television showed.
Debris from the container vessel X-press Pearl was washing up along Sri Lanka’s beach stretches from Uswetakeiyawa and Negombo shortly before dawn on May 26.
Some villagers were seen defying a Coronavirus lockdown and warnings by authorities not to approach debris to quickly grab salvageable items saving the planet and warming the cockles of environmentalists’ hearts.
News footage on Sri Lanka’s Derana television showed intact sacks of Lotrene branded plastic granules being carted away before they broke up, saving an expensive clean-up operation for authorities.
Some however had already broken up, after hitting the shore.
Virgin plastic pellets are worth about 1000 to 1200 US dollars a tonne or about a dollar a kilogram free on board.
Others were also seen salvaging what appeared to be rolls of plastic sheets, entertaining a keen audience clearly bored by several days of a Coronavirus lockdown.
There were not policemen available to disrupt the party.
Sri Lanka’s Marine Environment Protection Authority has said they are readying dispersal chemical and booms to catch any oil leaks from the blazing vessel.
Sri Lanka is at the front end of recycling plastic bottles and turning them into exportable high-end fabric and other products.
Beach clean-ups organized by Sri Lankan firms have collected not only plastic from the country but other Indian ocean rim nations as well.
On May 25, containers stacked high on the deck of blazing X-Press Pearl toppled to the sea as burning bozes at the bottom buckled and the vessel developed a list to starboard.
By daylight on May 26, the vessel was seen almost completely engulfed in flames and thick black smoke, photographs released by Sri Lanka Air Force showed.
Charred debris was also starting to wash ashore. Officials have warned that burnt chemicals flowing in with sea water as well as air could be poisonous.
Firefighting tugs were seen spraying water to the burning hulk from a safe distance. (Colombo/May26/2021)