MPL held its annual conference in Sri Lanka in 2017, and for those of us who attended, many will remember best, the beautiful beaches, watching dolphins play in the distance, the panoramic view of the sea, with Catamarans bobbing on the horizon and especially the beautiful sunsets.

Mike Barclay of Shiphaus, USA a long standing MPL member, kindly provided me with two beautiful photos (shown below) which I cherish to this day.  What a talent he has for capturing such elegance through his lenses. 

In addition, for me, it was a joy early each morning sitting on my balcony watching, Indian Palm Squirrels (similar to the American chipmunk) run up and down the palm trees on the beach playing and sometimes teasing the wild dogs.

Finally reminiscent, was the wonderful sea food we had during our stay.


Since May 20th much of this has been put in jeopardy, when the MV X-Press Pearl caught fire off the coast of Colombo and burned for two weeks before sinking.  The vessel had on board 1,486 containers, plus 350 metric tons of oil in its tanks, when it caught fire. Eighty-one (81) of these containers held “dangerous goods” which included 25 metric tons of nitric acid, in addition to other chemicals.

A tugboat from the Dutch salvage firm SMIT towed the fire-stricken Singapore registered container ship away from the coast of Colombo on the 2nd June, but still the vessel is causing havoc in the area.

Pollution from the sunken ship is devastating local marine life.  So far, the already endangered Sea Turtle is dying by the dozens.  Most likely poisoned by the toxic chemicals seeping from the vessel.  The Sri Lankan Government says more than 170 turtles, four whales and 20 dolphins have washed up dead.

In addition, the ship was carrying 80 tons of plastic pellets which are now well spread and further threatening marine life and birds, most likely through suffocation or choking.  

The plastic pellets are dispersing with the sea currents heading for India and Indonesia and will be found for years to come. 

The impact on the local fishing community, many of whom rely on daily wages, has been devastating.  People are frightened to buy seafood due to the toxic implications from the chemicals.  

The Sri Lankan United Nations representative says the release of hazardous substances can also damage the planet’s eco system.

The MV X-Press Pearl is now resting on the seabed.  Its toxic cargo polluting and killing local marine life.  There is acute concern of an oil spill, which would lead to an environmental tragedy, such as not having been felt previously in years.    It can coat all species in the water and dramatically affect seabirds.    

Since May 30th members of the Sri Lankan Navy have been removing debris washed up on the beaches adjacent to Colombo. 

A law suit has been taken out against the Government and Ship Officials.  The captain of the ship was arrested, then released on bail.  Whether or not he is eventually found culpable, one thing for certain is his future testimony as a witness.

The Sri Lankan authorities have launched criminal and civil investigations has to how the fire started.