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Sri Lanka asks China-bound ship to leave Hambantota Port after uranium found on it

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The ship was on its way to China from the port of Rotterdam in the Netherlands when it developed technical difficulties and entered the Hambantota Port.

COLOMBO ; Sri Lanka has asked a China-bound cargo ship to leave the strategic southern port of Hambantota after it was found to be carrying radioactive uranium without declaring it to authorities, officials said on Wednesday.

Anil Ranjith, the top official of the Sri Lanka Atomic Energy Authority (SLAEA), said that the ship was on its way to China from the port of Rotterdam in the Netherlands when it developed technical difficulties and entered the Hambantota Port.

The SLAEA said the vessel had failed to disclose its radioactive cargo when it docked in at the port.

Ranjith said it was a commercial vessel, which carried radioactive material – the particular material served as fuel for nuclear power plants.

The ship was managed by the China Merchants Port Holding Company.

Director of the Sri Lanka Atomic Energy Board, T.M.R Tennakoon said the port authorities were unaware of the material on board the ship when it entered the port.

Tennakoon said that when it was discovered that the ship contained radioactive materiel steps were taken to move the vessel to the outer-port.

He said that the ship was instructed not to unload any of the items on the vessel, the Daily Mirror newspaper reported.

Tennakoon also said that a team from the Atomic Energy Board has been dispatched to Hambantota immediately.

He said that there was no immediate threat to Sri Lanka from the hazardous items on board the ship and that the vessel.

Tennakoon also said that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa had been briefed about the incident, the report said.

The main Opposition leader Sajith Premadasa said in Parliament that the Sri Lanka Navy, which is in charge of the Hambantota port security, was not allowed to carry out inspections on the vessel.

Meanwhile, the Hambantota International Port Group (HIPG) said that M.V. BBC Naples sailing under the flag of “Antigua & Barbados” entered the port of Hambantota on 20th April at 2100 hrs, while en route from Rotterdam to China.

The ship made an emergency call at the port for some urgent repairs. Agents for the vessel in Sri Lanka, Ms. Barwil Meridian Navigation, had not declared to the port authorities that there was dangerous cargo on board prior to the vessel entering the port, the HIPG said in a statement.

It was later found that they were carrying a cargo of Uranium Hexafluoride via investigations made by the Sri Lanka Navy and the Port Authority. The vessel was required to leave the port no sooner the facts were verified, it said.

Source ; India Today

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