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Govt. assures thorough probe

- island.lk

By Saman Indrajith

The government assured Parliament yesterday that it would investigate media reports about hazardous materials on board the cargo vessel that collided with a key Baltimore bridge last week while on its way to Colombo.

Environment State Minister Janaka Wakkumbura gave the assurance, and added that Lankan authorities had not yet been informed about the content of the cargo.

He gave the assurance when dissident SLPP MP Prof Charitha Herath raised the issue of reports that among its cargo there had been containers carrying hazardous materials in the Singapore-flagged vessel ‘Dali’, which was mainly manned by an Indian crew. It collided with the 2.6-km-long four-lane Francis Scott Key Bridge over the Patapsco River in Baltimore in the early hours of March 26. Some media reports have claimed that the 984-foot cargo ship was bound for Colombo carrying 764 tonnes of hazardous materials to Colombo. “This is a serious situation, and we must take immediate action to ascertain what really is happening,” Prof Herath said in his speech made with special permission from the Chair.

Opposition and SJB leader Sajith Premadasa demanded to know from the government whether permission had been granted to unload cargo in the Colombo port.

State Minister Wakkumbura said that both Sri Lanka Customs and the Colombo Port had been instructed to investigate the matter. “The Central Environment Authority has not been informed of any hazardous cargo. They will carry out an investigation. We will inform Parliament of the results of this,” Wakkumbura said.

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