Sri Lanka works to clean oil slicks near capital

Sri Lanka deployed hundreds of coast guard and navy personnel on Monday to clean oil slicks on a coastal stretch near the capital following a spill caused by a pipeline leak.

Saumya Ekanayake, a spokesman for the government’s Marine Environment Protection Authority, said the leak occurred Saturday night in a pipeline carrying oil from tankers to a storage facility on the land, releasing about 25 tons of furnace oil. The leak occurred off Uswetakeiyawa, a coastal town about 14 kilometers (9 miles) north of Colombo.

The leak caused oil slicks in a coastal stretch of about 2 kilometers (1 mile), Ekanayake said.

A Ceylon Petroleum Corporation team (CPC) on patrol visit observed the leakage on Saturday morning and immediate steps were taken to bring the situation under control, Petroleum Ministry Secretary Upali Marasinghe said.

“Due to the leakage, an oil spill was identified in the beach area from Dikovita to Uswetakeiyawa, while efforts to clean the sea area by removing the fuel spill are being carried out with the support of Sri Lanka Navy, Ceylon Petroleum Storage Terminals Ltd., Marine Environment Protection Agency and the Coast Conservation Department,” he said.

Over 300 naval personnel attached to the Western Naval Command and Coast Guard joined the cleaning up operation with the support of Sri Lanka Coast Guard ships ‘Samaraksha’ and ‘Samudra Raksha’, which were presented to the SLCG by the Japanese Government on August 29.

Ekanayake said the leak had stopped, but that it would take two or three more days to complete the cleaning task.

He said the authority was investigating the incident.

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