News

Ships’ fuel oil disposal under scrutiny  

 

  • Committee appointed to prepare report 
  • 1 l of dirty water pollutes 10,000 l of clean water with heavy metals

 

BY Pamodi Waravita 

A committee has been appointed by the Environment Ministry to investigate the process surrounding the disposal of fuel oil in Sri Lanka by ships that come to the country’s ports and the local industry that refines this fuel oil, as this has led to severe environmental harm to the country.

At a discussion held last week, Environment Minister Mahinda Amaraweera noted that fuel oil disposal in Sri Lanka has polluted the country’s water sources. As such, he has appointed a committee to probe into the matter and to hand over a report to the Ministry.

The Ministry said that according to international norms regarding the removal of fuel oil from ships, only fuel oil that has been added from the last port of call till the next port can be disposed of by a ship, at a fee paid to the recipient country as compensation for the environmental damages that it causes.

However, in Sri Lankan ports, disposable fuel oil is bought at a price from the ships by approximately 10 companies in the country who then refine and sell the fuel oil to small-scale industries.

“In the process of removing water from fuel oil, the water is directly discharged into water sources such as rivers and streams. It was revealed that one litre of this dirty water pollutes 10,000 litres of clean water while heavy metals such as arsenic, cyanide, lead, and cadmium contained in this water are added to the drinking water, which eventually leads to many deadly diseases such as kidney failure,” the Ministry added.

Thus, this committee has been appointed to monitor the process and ensure that the country does not face severe environmental consequences as a result of it. The committee consists of representatives from the Environment Ministry, the Central Environmental Authority (CEA), the Marine Environment Protection Authority (MEPA), the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC), and those currently engaged in this business.