Fishermen in the Rameswaram area of ââTamil Nadu’s Ramanathapuram district reported smelly foam and what appears to be polluted water along the coast.
Thick-looking foam and polluted mixtures on the surface of the water can be seen in the images and videos. Fishermen in the region suspect it could be linked to the X-Press Pearl maritime disaster that occurred off the coast of Sri Lanka.
According to Cinnathambi, coordinator of the Federation of Traditional Fishermen, the unusual scum and suspected pollutants have been washed away along the shore over the past two days, in the Pamban area and the Gulf of Mannar. He adds that such a foam stretches for almost 50 to 100 meters in seawater and extends for several kilometers along the coast.
When asked if this is the usual foaming that occurs during rough seas and monsoons, he told Zee Media that there were also what appeared to be pieces of washed plastic. down. He added that the fishing community was in a state of fear about these suspected pollutants, which did not appear to be weather-related foam / churning.
Preliminary suspicions from the fishing community point to the MV X-Press Pearl, which sank off the Sri Lankan coast (between Colombo and Negombo), despite Coast Guard firefighting efforts Indian and Sri Lankan authorities.
Fears remain about the content of its containers and the environmental impact it could pose for the region. There have been several reports of tons of plastic pellets having washed up on Sri Lankan shores, in addition to the long term impact of chemicals transported hundreds of kilometers due to wind, ocean currents, etc.
When it caught fire, the container ship was carrying 1,486 containers with a cargo of chemicals, classified under International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG).
The ship caught fire around the last week of May and sank the first week of June. Among other chemicals, the IMDG cargo consisted of highly flammable nitric acid, methanol, methyl acetate, sodium hydroxide and polystyrene beads. It should be noted that the distance between Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu and the location of the sunk ship (off Sri Lanka) is barely 240kms.
It is understood that researchers at the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute in Mandapam collected samples from the nearby area which showed this suspicious foam. Zee Media’s attempts to reach the institute have not yet received a response. The story will be updated once a CMFRI official responds.