Downstream Stories

Sri Lanka, Negombo


Negombo, Sri Lanka

On 20 May 2021, the X-Press Pearl caught fire off the coast of Colombo, Sri Lanka. Carrying 297 tonnes of heavy fuel and 51 tonnes of marine fuel, the vessel also released chemicals into the water, polluting the the Negombo coast. One of the chemicals was nitric acid, known to make fertilizers and plastic.

The vessel was then sunk off the coast.

From Dikovita, Uswetakeyyawa, Thaldiyawatta, Sarappuwa, Kepungoda, and Dungalpitiya to the Negombo area, harmful substances can still be seen clumped up in the water and on the beaches.

A series of beach clean ups have taken place, but the area remains contaminated, with a loss of marine life, which negatively impacts the local fishing activity that communities depend on for their livelihoods. 

Downstream Community Stories

Dinesha Fernando

Resident of Negombo

Dinesha Fernando lives in the Sarappuwa area. She is doing a beach clean up, and can see where the Xpress Pearl vessel caught fire out at sea.

A clean up taking place on the beach, to capture the toxic substances released by the X-Press Pearl.

A dead turtle is found on the beach, with chemical substances attached to its body.

Gamini Peiris


Gamini Peiris lives in the Negombo Divisional Secretariat and describes how fishing has changed in the area since the vessel caught on fire.

Clumps of chemical substances can be seen in the fishing nets.

N.J. Jude Roshan Silva


Jude Roshan Silva lives in Kepungoda. He is a fisherman by profession, in the Divisional Secretariat of Negombo.

He speaks to the negative impact the chemicals have had on his fishing activity.

Residents buy fish at the Negombo Lellama Fish Market.


Christie works at the Pitipana, Negombo Lellama Fish Market and tells us how the Xpress Pearl negatively impacts business.

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Shot on location with the help of  Centre for Environmental Justice.

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