British toxic waste containers at Colombo Port: UK team due soon

By Ifham Nizam

The British government was having discussions with the Sri Lankan Ministries of Justice and Foreign Relations on a case filed over containers of hazardous waste from UK dumped here, a top government official said,

Central Environmental Authority (CEA) Managing Director Hemantha Jayasinghe told The Island that United Kingdom Environmental Agency officials would visit Colombo shortly.

Jayasinghe said that initially UK wanted to take back the waste dumped here. However, in view of the ongoing court cases, no decision had been taken.

“We want the waste to be sent back to the UK,” he added.

Jayasinghe said that there were no truth about the move to destroy waste using incinerators here though the company which imported waste was keen to do so.

He confirmed The Island report on some more containers from the UK lying at the Colombo port.

Sri Lanka Customs Director Sunil Jayarathna, contacted for comment, recently said that such hazardous waste transfers were against the Basel Convention. The Customs Department said that they wanted to send the containers back to the UK and was awaiting the verdict of the Court of Appeal.

Colombo Metal Industries and ITL Colombo Limited used their licences to import the hazardous waste. The Court of Appeal, on September 20, further extended its Interim Order directing the authorities to prevent any transportation or movement of imported consignments of waste inside the country.

The Interim Order would not prevent the transportation of the consignments of waste for the purposes of re-exportation.

Court of Appeal (President) Yasantha Kodagoda, PC and Justice Arjuna Obeysekara made the order regarding a Writ Petition filed against the importation of waste currently being stored in the Colombo Port and Katunayake Free Trade Zone.

The Court of Appeal directed the Government Analyst to prepare a report on the consignment of waste carrying containers and submit it to the court.

The Court order specified that the Government Analyst inspect those containers and compile the report.

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