A Cargo Ship Burns off Sri Lanka, Covering Beaches in Plastic Debris

Two weeks ago, a fire erupted on a cargo ship named the MV X-Press Pearl, which was carrying tons of chemicals and plastic pellets, while it was anchored near Colombo, Sri Lanka. Efforts to douse the fire were unsuccessful, and the damaged ship began spilling its cargo. Tons of plastic pellets, also known as nurdles, spilled from their containers and began washing ashore on nearby beaches. The pellets, used as raw material to manufacture other plastic products, can absorb harmful chemicals and can be mistaken for food by marine animals. The fire on the ship recently died down, but efforts to tow it to deeper water failed, and it appears to be slowly sinking. Local authorities and fishermen are now concerned about the possibility of an oil spill, as the sinking ship was carrying several hundred tons of fuel oil.

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