A team of technical experts of the European Union (EU) will be assisting the Sri Lankan government to assess the environmental damage caused by the fire-ravaged container ship that sank off Colombo, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Friday (June 18).
According to a statement from the ministry, the EU/ECHO – the emergency arm of EU funding – through the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) supports three technical experts to help the government in this regard.
The experts include Stephane Le Floch – an expert on oil and hazardous and noxious substances (HNS) deployed to emergencies, HNS and marine litter expertise Camille La Croix and Luigi Alcaro who specialized in environmental impact assessment following oil and HNS spill also with previous deployment experience.
A meeting was organized by the Foreign Ministry to brief the experts on the current ground situation and the action taken by the relevant stakeholder agencies. The meeting was chaired by Director General, Ocean Affairs, Environment, and Climate Change Hasanthi Urugodawatte Dissanayake together with UN Resident Coordinator in Sri Lanka Hanaa Singer-Hamdy.
The meeting commenced with an introduction to the disaster that occurred, setting the background for further elaboration and updates from the relevant stakeholder agency, with the relevant mandate.
The meeting paved the way to understand the mandates of the agencies in relation to environmental damages connected to the disaster and the role of the agencies and initial discussions on how the 03 experts could contribute to support the process with recommendations on future action to be taken by the key stakeholder agencies.
Participating stakeholder agencies included senior officials from the State Ministry of Urban Development, Coast Conservation, Waste Disposal, and Community Cleanliness, Marine Environmental Protection Authority (MEPA), Sri Lanka Navy, Sri Lanka Coast Guard, National Aquatic Resources Research and Development Agency (NARA), Central Environmental Authority (CEA), Department of Wildlife Conservation (DWC), Merchant Shipping Secretariat, Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA), Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, Ministry of Environment, Justice Ministry, Attorney General’s Department, as well as UN Office in Colombo and Asian Development Bank, European Union and several experts from the team established by MEPA to assess the ecological damage caused by the disaster.