Sri Lanka braces for bunker tank leakage as X-Press Pearl comes to rest in shallow waters

Sri Lankan authorities have reached out to India for urgent assistance with booms, skimmers and oil dispersants being readied in the event the bunker tanks of the burnt X-Press Pearl rupture.
Efforts to tow the badly burnt ship to deeper water failed yesterday as the ship’s stern sank, and is currently sitting on the ocean floor at depths of just 21 m, with the aft of the vessel slowly submerging.

“Salvors remain on scene to deal with any possible debris supported by the Sri Lankan Navy and the Indian Coast Guard, who have oil spill response capabilities on standby,” an update from the ship’s operator, X-Press Feeders, stated today.

The ship, located off Sri Lanka’s west coast, has 278 tonnes of bunker fuel onboard.

On May 20, the Singapore-flagged vessel reported smoke from the cargo hold while at Colombo anchorage, which likely came from poorly packed nitric acid in one container mixing with other chemicals being carried onboard. The next day the vessel reported fire on deck. High winds from a monsoon fanned the flames and Sri Lanka has had to contend with a massive environmental catastrophe as many of the cargoes onboard, including tonnes of micoplastics, have washed up on the island’s shores.

Mr Sam Chambers

Photo:  Ruwan Walpola /