Over 250 containers containing hazardous waste from United Kingdom is lying at both Colombo
port and the adjacent free trade zone in blatant violation of internatinal law
outside. They had arrived in Colobmo port between 2017 and 2018 and the legal
tussle is holding up action against them.
The Sri Lanka Customs and the Central Environmental Authority (CEA) have
failed to take legal action against the companies responsible for importing 263
containers full of hazardous waste to Colombo port from the United Kingdom.
With more foreign garbage entering the country, this time from Ukraine,
environmentalists and authorities are up in arms.
Alarmed at the rate of arrival in Colombo port from various European
countries, the Sri Lankan Attorney
General’s Department would soon submit a report to Parliament, spelling out the
fact that both the central environment authority and Customs Department had
failed to file legal action against the importers of waste.
would do his utmost to rid the country of foreign waste
Environment Minister Mahinda Amaraweera, was quoted by the Sri Lankan media
that he would take immediate action. He also said that such activities should
be completely stopped and he would do his utmost to rid the country of foreign
Customs Director Sunil Jayarathna told The Island that a new probe team
would be appointed and the CID called in. The delay in sending back the
consignment to the countries of origin was due to a Court order and a Customs
inquiry. He said the Customs had not been able to do much for months due to the
pandemic and most of the officials were quarantined.
Some containers of hazardous waste were finally sent back to the United
Kingdom three months ago after more than a year.
transfers were against the Basel Convention said Jayaratne
Jayaratne said that the Customs had decided on the penalties.
Environmentalists said Rs. 1.6 billion had to be charged from the local agent
and a separate penalty imposed on the British company concerned. Jayaratne said
that hazardous waste transfers were against the Basel Convention.
The Customs said that they wanted to send the containers last year back to
the UK and awaited the verdict of the Court of Appeal. Colombo Metal Industries
and ITL Colombo Limited imported the hazardous waste. The containers contained
used mattresses, carpets and hospital waste, officials said.