Fire on X-Press Pearl: Theory and Science-Island

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There is nothing we can do about the catastrophic fire that occurred in the container ship X-Press Pearl. This will definitely have serious environmental impacts, and we must be guided by science rather than personal theory. Some scholars with their own explanations will only confuse the public to the point of giving up eating fish, which is our main source of protein. When these theories are spread through the media, people will be so hyped that people tend to accept everything they say.

The transportation company was at fault because the containers that transported concentrated nitric acid did not properly contain the leakage. This acid is very corrosive and is also a strong oxidant. Generally, it is very undesirable to transport such strong acids and highly oxidizable organic compounds. We are not sure how the nitric acid is contained in the container. Inert packaging materials should be used, such as vermiculite, which is a silicate mineral and should be used as packaging to absorb any accidental spills. In the case of a container leak, it should be immersed in this type of adsorbent first. After soaking the acid in this way, a high-pressure water hose can be used to flush the acid-containing adsorbent with water. Crew members should be trained in such disposal procedures when transporting such dangerous goods. Shipping personnel may not know the chemicals involved, but they can contact field experts with expertise in hazardous waste disposal.

There is a theory that the leakage of nitric acid will destroy corals. There is no scientific basis for this claim. The nitric acid added to the vast ocean is diluted to harmless levels. NASA scientists estimate that the formation of nitric acid due to lightning and rain reaches 8.4 million tons per year worldwide. This is part of the nitrogen cycle in nature and has lasted for millions of years. Similarly, sodium methoxide is easily hydrolyzed to produce sodium hydroxide and methanol. Considering the dilution in the ocean, their biological effects are small.

Some scientists claim that this fire will cause acid rain. Acid rain is caused by sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels and coal. They dissolve in water and fall in the form of sulfuric acid and nitric acid, producing acid rain. Although acid rain from ship fires is a valid argument in theory, from the point of view of cargo content, there is no source of sulfur dioxide or nitrogen dioxide, only the burning of ship fuel will produce sulfur dioxide, which leads to acid rain. In addition, since there is only one container of nitric acid, the amount of nitrogen dioxide produced will not be large, especially when nitric acid enters seawater. The emissions produced by vehicles in Colombo during the fuel combustion process exceeded the ship’s possible emissions. So far, the fuel tank is intact, except for oil leakage, because the ship is underwater, the possibility of burning is relatively small.

The real environmental problem is plastic particles and oil spills, not acid rain or nitric acid. According to cargo inventory, these plastic beads belong to the low-density polyethylene (LDPE) and high-density polyethylene (HDPE) groups. What is really disturbing is the fate of plastic pellets, which washed ashore, polluted our beaches, and finally turned into fish. Since the oceans around the world have been heavily polluted by plastics, plastic microfibers have been detected in marine fish for some time. Very small microplastic stocks are everywhere, including our homes. For example, our own clothes are made of polymers, and these polymers produce these substances. This matter has attracted the attention of scientists in the past few years. Similarly, plush toys and other plastic toys will fall off during use, and these will exist in the air we breathe. Plastic can be stored for at least one hundred years without decomposition. Government agencies such as the Central Environmental Protection Agency, the Marine Environmental Protection Agency, and the National Fisheries Research Bureau can commit to monitoring the presence of microplastic fibers in fish. This is a simple test that involves observing the meat under a microscope.

If we look at the existing information, the ship carries a total of 1886 containers. The cargo distribution (along with the number of containers in parentheses) is as follows: nitric acid (1), 25,000 bags of LDPE and HDPE, each bag weighs 25 kg (55), caustic soda ( 42), urea (88), lead ingots (8), lubricants (30) methanol, sodium ethoxide, vehicles and other miscellaneous items (other containers). The biggest environmental problem here is LDPE and HDPE particles and lubricants, which can cause oil spills and 325 tons of marine fuel.

The problem is how to deal with the large amount of plastic garbage collected on our beaches. Our plastics industry imports a large amount of this product as a raw material for the production of food packaging film, which accounts for about 55% of global consumption. The shopping bags we are familiar with are also made of this polymer, and injection molding has many other applications, including household goods, toys and sporting goods, hats and various medical devices.

I would like to propose that the stacked plastic beads be used in the plastics industry and encourage them to reuse the plastic beads washed ashore. Simple gravity separation can separate the sand from the beads. Soaking in seawater with a higher density than fresh water can separate the beads from the sand, and it is possible to reuse these particles. Some bags collected by people crowded on the beach can be purchased, and the initiative of the plastics industry is crucial to solving the plastic problem.

The damage caused by X-Press to the environment is huge, and it is doubtful whether Sri Lanka can recover at least part of the cost of the loss through shipowner compensation. In an earlier incident involving New Diamond, the Attorney General demanded compensation in Rs. 3.4 billion, according to a government minister in a recent press conference, only about Rs. 400 million has been paid. It is not clear whether Sri Lanka has signed an appropriate convention to deal with compensation issues. Some of these conventions are the Bunker Convention (2001), the Athens Convention (2002) and the London Convention on the Limitation of Liability for Maritime Claims (1996). For example, Canada enacted the Maritime Liability Act in 2018 to ensure that victims and other responders can receive compensation in the event of an oil spill. Regardless of the size of the leak, environmental remediation is 100% compensable.

The 30 containers containing lubricating oil and the oil pollution hazard of 325 tons of engine fuel should be brought to the attention of the authorities to purchase the equipment and chemicals needed for the repair. More importantly, we should have personnel with the necessary expertise to deal with a wide range of oil pollution problems. Oil booms are a popular and most widely used method of oil cleaning because they are simple and easy to perform. This method must be performed immediately after the oil leak is detected. Once the oil is surrounded by the oil boom, it must be extracted by scooping it up with an oil skimmer. The most effective method is to use adsorbents. Some cheap materials available for this purpose are peat moss, vermiculite and straw. If the spilled oil is not dispersed, it may even burn the oil because it floats on the sea water. In addition, dispersants that are chemically similar to detergents used in household washing can be used to repair oil spills. These break down the oil droplets into smaller sizes, making it easier to mix with water, and the microbes of the edible oil will eventually ingest and break down these smaller balls.

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Statement by Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa on the Tourism Crisis

As of 2019, Sri Lanka has been rated as one of the most exciting tourist destinations in the world by many prestigious publications including "Lonely Planet", "The New York Times" and Condé Nast. Improvements in the transportation system, infrastructure development, world-class hotels and facilities, and Sri Lanka’s natural beauty and hospitality are all factors. Tourism is an important part of Sri Lanka's economy and an important creator of foreign exchange, but it was hit hard by the Easter attacks in 2019 and the ongoing global pandemic.

The resulting blockade affects every aspect of life and every industry, especially the tourism industry; studies have shown that 36% of low-skilled workers and another 36% of semi-skilled workers have been fired; 28% of junior and mid-level management departments Was also laid off. 70% of tourism and hotel industry experts estimate that 41% to 60% of industry labor will be laid off.

The number of tourists has decreased; due to the closure of the airport and the suspension of flights from March 18, 2020, there were only 507,704 people from January to December 2020, and the number of arrivals from April to the end of December was zero. This is a decrease of 73.5% from the same period last year, when the number of immigrants exceeded 1.9 million.

There are many service providers that directly rely on the tourism industry; more than 500 travel agencies, 250 leisure outlets, 300 travel shops, 5,000 tour guides and airlines, employment opportunities in these service industries are severely restricted.

Over 90% of the formal sector outlets and 75% of the informal sector outlets are still temporarily closed. More than 75% of the informal sector outlets have been closed. Related industries are affected by sectoral linkages, leading to a multiplier effect and destroying the livelihoods of millions of people.

Given the importance of tourism to the economy, GOSL must give priority to this industry.

In this regard, we believe that certain budget proposals will backfire and promote the development of this important sector. In addition to the 1% turnover TDL, pricing and profit margins will be affected due to the proposed 2.5% social security contribution. This will affect the competitiveness of Sri Lanka's tourism products, and these taxes are regressive in nature. The imminent moratorium will only lead to further cash flow restrictions, causing individuals and businesses to fall into more debt. Disposable income is almost non-existent, and new investments become infeasible.

Based on the above key issues, we make the following recommendations

a) Reorganize the debts obtained by the tourism sector from licensed commercial banks for ten (10) years with a grace period of two (2) years.

b) During the suspension period, the total interest portion of the term loan from April 2019 to June 30, 2022 will be waived.

c) Implementation of the debt restructuring plan recommended by the CBSL Monetary Committee.

We further recommend abolishing local government taxes that account for up to 1% of turnover and replacing them with trade licensing fees similar to all other industries. In fact, this proposal was put forward by the Minister of Finance in the last budget, but it has not yet been implemented.

The hotel also has to pay a higher electricity bill. The tariffs applicable to hotels (i.e. H-1, H-2 and H-3) should match industrial tariffs (i.e. I-1, I-2 and I-3, which are currently lower than the rates for "hotel use") ).

Restructure the total debt portfolio of the tourism industry in Rs. According to the recommendations of the CBSL Monetary Committee, the allocation of 350 billion U.S. dollars and the full implementation of the concessions granted by the Cabinet on June 10, 2020 are crucial.

As an emergency relief measure, the industry has asked the authorities to intervene through mandatory restructuring and rescheduling of loan arrangements. CBSL must provide all licensed commercial banks and financial companies with clear guidelines on the execution of contracts and the restoration of facilities.

Unlike previous temporary methods, effective mediation is necessary. Facilities need to be extended to new and approved projects in the tourism pipeline.

The main goal is to ensure employee retention, even in the case of lower wages, but these have not been achieved, and dismissal rates in all departments continue to soar. Many people who previously worked in the tourism sector also lack formal social security and are therefore prone to bankruptcy and poverty.

Tourism income was Sri Lanka's second largest source of net foreign exchange income in 2018/19, with an income of US$4.3 billion. According to the previous budget speeches of the former Minister of Finance and the current prime minister, the hotel industry is valued at more than US$10 billion.

In addition to the above, the following government agencies have benefited from the inflow of 12.6 billion Sri Lankan rupees in 2018/19

It is estimated that by 2020, the tourism revenue of the public sector will lose about 12 billion Sri Lankan rupees, and similar losses are expected to occur by the end of 2021.

Based on revenue in 2019, the revenue loss from tourism in the public sector in 2020 is estimated to be approximately Rs 1.2 billion. Even in 2021 there will be similar losses. Overall, the economy lost approximately US$3.5 billion in 2020, and this trend will continue in 2021. When Sri Lanka runs out of foreign exchange reserves, protecting the established and proven foreign exchange generation channels must be the government's top priority.

Please also note that 90% of all tourism investment is carried out by local entrepreneurs, 90% of which belong to small and medium enterprises.

It is worth noting that the registered hotel room capacity in 2009/10 was 14,461 rooms, an increase of approximately 71% to 24,757 rooms in 2018/19. This significant growth rate supports Sri Lanka's investment portfolio.

According to the industry’s recommendations to the government, it has been promised that it will actively consider renegotiation and reorganization of the convenient steps provided by commercial banks. However, in reality, this policy has not been implemented fairly. At this critical moment, this policy alone is not enough. The following factors need urgent consideration to support the industry:

After the suspension of repayment, the repayment of accumulated interest on current borrowings will end in mid-2022

Repay any outstanding borrowed capital before December 2021

Repayment of outstanding statutory payments

Assist to support working capital for at least 6 months

Assist in maintenance and product upgrades to ensure compliance with the quality and standards that meet the classification requirements

Provide assistance to newly approved development projects that have been put on hold due to increased development costs, mainly due to the depreciation of the rupee and the increase in construction costs-bridging financing-

Provide financial assistance to industry stakeholders through local commercial banks.

The government established a separate unit to plan, structure, evaluate, control, and supervise the entire exercise after obtaining cabinet approval. It may be under the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Planning and Implementation, Ministry of Tourism or Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) directly under the Ministry of Tourism.

The government provides necessary guarantees for the fund through local banks. It may be possible to consider a mechanism in which individual entities pledge their shares to loans or similar values.

Nevertheless, the offshore funding provided will be in U.S. dollars, and the loans provided to industry stakeholders will be in Sri Lankan rupees. (This will also help the government to strengthen its depleted foreign exchange reserves to a certain extent)

After careful evaluation of the application according to the established criteria, assistance in the form of soft loans will be provided. – A grace period of at least two years for the repayment of principal and interest. The annual interest rate is lower than the preferential interest rate of 4%. The payback period of investment is 7 years. (10 years in total)

The special financial package is purely for promotion to all local inbound tour operators, because the business volume of local inbound tour operators is equivalent to 65% of the total number of people arriving in Sri Lanka before the pandemic.

We know that the upcoming tourism policy document has been submitted for public comments. It needs to develop an action plan for all departments, namely: development, promotion and regulations, with a clear timetable to prevent these policy documents from being finalized.

We believe that this is not the right time to enact a hasty tourism law to replace the current tourism law No. 38 of 2005. The current bill does need to be changed, but this must include the full participation of the private sector in decision-making.

It is also a tool for deciding how to manage and allocate travel funds. We noticed with amazement that the proposed Tourism Law left the governance issues to the representatives

Private sector national institutions that are only invited as "observers."

Obviously, this proposed bill is carefully planned to meet the needs of certain people. This is unacceptable.

The Minister of Finance said a few days ago that the travel fund may be revoked and the collection will go directly to the comprehensive fund. This is the system we abolished 15 years ago and we have taken current actions to strengthen effective industry participation to promote the development of tourism. We should not forget that the return is 2.3 million visits and tourism revenue exceeds 4 billion U.S. dollars.

Sri Lanka is one of more than 250 competing destinations, so our country's positioning in the source market is very important. We need to actively engage with our primary, secondary and emerging markets to prevent us from falling behind other destinations.

We are aware of the serious shortage of foreign exchange in the country, and tourism is an effective and sustainable remedy.

In fact, in view of the above situation, Sri Lanka's overall economic fate is obviously closely related to the performance of our tourism industry. Therefore, protecting the sector and related aspects, such as protecting the environment, wildlife, and reducing pollution, are vital to our Sri Lanka national project.

Today, our daily lives have been separated from the religion we envisioned. Our participation in religion is mainly formal, ritual and ritual. This is not surprising, for two reasons. First of all, our earliest and most intimate relationship with religion is woven through rituals, such as visiting places of worship with adults, holding precepts, praying, listening to stories and sermons, meeting peers, neighbors and relatives, and of course excitement Prepare to celebrate special religious events such as Vesak, Christmas, Diwali, Ramadan and many other solemn events.

Secondly, young children in the growth stage have immature cognitive abilities and do not have the ability to critically understand ethics and the doctrines of religious "transcendental" content. Therefore, these complex concepts are essentially acquired like a first language. , Not critical. got engaged.

In a sense, both the first language and (first) religion serve the child to "perceive" and "interpret" the world, leaving a permanent mark on him. However, there is a difference. Language acquisition is the main requirement of the process of children's socialization, but it is not the case in the acquisition of religion. There is not much that a child can do—that is, “transcendental” content, which includes non-negotiable claims about the “begin and end” of the world, and “existence after death,” as they say in their respective scriptures. religion. As we know, religion does not have a unified opinion on such "metaphysical" issues. Therefore, as a child acquires sharper cognitive skills as he/she grows up, he/she will accept the view that religion is a unique "knowledge" and you can take the risk of interrogation on your own. If you are questioned, You have the right to be offended by others. As the years go by, this perception will be strengthened because you realize that this is a daily affair. When you as an adult begin to know other religious "interpretations" that are incompatible with you, you tell yourself that it is not your business.

This kind of mutual arrangement of "not interested in research" on the other's opinions can sometimes make you feel embarrassed. To make matters worse, history proves that it is a fragile contract. However, if the religious part of the child's early childhood exposure is limited to moral education, then all these unnecessary embarrassments can be automatically corrected. Anyone who thinks that "morality" is the essence or refined wisdom of every religion can easily agree to this proposition. Unfortunately, this is the way to acquire religion in all societies and cultures, and "moral content" is always combined with "transcendental content."

This is unfortunate, because the "moral content" of almost all religions is largely similar; and the "transcendental content" that children cannot understand varies from religion to religion. In other words, almost all religions have an invaluable moral core that applies to everyone, regardless of their "differences", but our tradition prevents children from obtaining it without overhanging; this gives They have an artificial and more worrying sense of indifference.

If religion is a means to an end, and if the end is to help individuals lead a productive life that is beneficial to the well-being of all, then of course it is best to get rid of all the divisive factors that are not conducive to people. It is designed to serve the purpose. This is easier said than done for several reasons.

First of all, in a sense, we are all "prisoners" of culture, tradition, and even language. As we know, engineering, medicine, or technology flourishes in change because everyone is constantly working hard to improve themselves in terms of ease, elegance, and efficacy. By the way, for different reasons, language, religion, customs, traditions, social, political or economic systems are not the case. For example, words, spelling, grammar, or gender bias in the language cannot be excluded to improve it in terms of ease, elegance, or efficacy. Similarly, the various forms of irregularities or injustices that are deeply ingrained in the social, political, and economic systems may last for centuries with little change. Religion is no exception, because it shares a basic element with the other religions mentioned above, that is, acquired lack of flexibility.

Second, it is regrettable that many people cannot think about morality without the religious formulas they are familiar with, and are framed in their "esoteric" form. In fact, as we know, all religions agree to promote goodwill and discourage all evil. However, as we expected, they have been incorporated into a specific cultural and historical background, so they appear "unfamiliar" to those who have not been in contact with them in childhood. Unfortunately, this sense of "different" grows as we grow up. As adults, we can easily disagree with the immutable packaging and ignore the similarity of information. This is simply ironic, because religion should make us open-minded, not intolerant. As mentioned earlier, premature indoctrination makes children form a dogmatic attitude towards all aspects of religion.

Neuroscientist Sam Harris said, "...under the banner of religion, dogmatism still has an extraordinary scope on the issue of truth and goodness" (moral landscape). Just like culture and social systems, we must be prepared to accept religion, warts, etc. Only in this way can we honestly discuss how to avoid the dangers inherent in the social environment, where there are different religions, and the degree of dedication of followers varies from moderate to fanatical. Let our dogmatic attitudes towards religion provide space for tension and discord that leads to unconscious violence. Isn’t it sad?

If we are to reap all the benefits from advances in science, technology, art, and the humanities, we must "religious" in a non-sectarian way and not be so isolated from different opinions. If we can understand religion more clearly, religion will be a great asset. Honest and sober discussions will be the only way out; but it will be a distant possibility until we continue to believe that our religion is superior to all other religions, and this is the only way to the so-called "ultimate truth."

The challenge before us is daunting, because religious inculcation of children is culturally recognized in every society, and the traditional momentum does not seem to allow us to agree to a more sensible and neutral way of instilling moral values ​​in children, regardless of them. Faith of the parents. To do this, it is important to recognize that selfless discussion of morality should replace the old tradition of indoctrination; this often creates religious prejudice. The focus should be shifted from mass-producing isolated and self-righteous people to guiding individual sensitivity, honesty, and open-mindedness.

The survival of mankind should take precedence over the survival of this or that religion. obviously!

We are not talking about our children returning to school, but about the request of the chief opposition whip, Lakshman Kiriella, to allow parliamentarians to enter Sri Lanka law school or any other university to continue their studies. What are the basic qualifications to enter the university? Speaking of basic qualifications, we remember that there was a discussion some time ago that some members did not even pass the GCE (O)Level. This is a minimum qualification, even for workers in recognized organizations or government services. We ask the chief opposition party whip to request permission to return to school on behalf of these members, no matter how old they are.

We remember that a member of the SAARC issued a rule that all people who come forward to compete for parliamentary seats should have a university degree. When submitting the nomination, officials found that nearly 20% of the certificates were fake. In any case, we are proud that such a thing is extremely rare in our country.

Finally, I urge Kiriella to also join the school for members of parliament who need basic qualifications for university admission.

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