Remember that container ship that blew up near the western coast of Sri Lanka? Well, it turns out that the ship kept burning for over a week and the pollution it caused is nothing to joke about. Reports say that the western coastline of Sri Lanka is almost covered with billions of plastic pellets, all of which could be potentially coated in toxic chemicals from the explosion.
The incident has been dubbed one of the worst ecological disasters to be ever faced by Sri Lanka. The debris floated ashore after the ship kept burning for over a week. Experts are mortified seeing miles of beaches being covered with the toxic cargo of the ship. The effect on both marine life and land life is alarming. The toxic substance could potentially alter the ecosystem of the coasts they cover.
Sri Lankan marine biologist, Asha de Vos, told the Washington Post that “It’s an environmental disaster”. She went on to talk about the plastic pellets, which are 78 metric tons. The pellets are literally blanketing the ecosystem and look like snow from a distance. According to Asha, “It was nuts. It was basically [plastic] snow on our beaches, these tiny white pellets, and piles of them”.
The crew of the MV X-Press Pearl, first spotted the smoke rising from the cargo on May 20th. They tried to extinguish the fire by releasing carbon dioxide in the hold, but the fire grew and an explosion rocked the recently built ship on May 22, the company said. Authorities suspect that the fire was caused by a leak from one of the containers that were carrying 25 metric tons of nitric acid.
Dead fish have begun washing up on the beaches while the country warns people to not touch any of the debris. Fishing around 50 miles of the coast has been banned for the time being giving to blow to the country’s economy. Asha de Vos predicts that the plastic “will be in our beaches for a long time to come”.
Asha and other scientists are now tracking the plastic pellets, keep track of where they end up and hope to raise awareness of the issue and how it will impact the lives of everyone affected.
When the White Frost comes, don’t eat the yellow snow.