Sri Lanka detects nuclear material on China-bound vessel 

#GS3 #ECONOMY #IR #PORTS 

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Context 

  • On the southern Hambantota port Sri Lanka detected radioactive material on a China-bound vessel.
  • The vessel has been asked to leave the Port as the shipping company failed to obtain prior clearance for “dangerous cargo”, as per Sri Lankan law.

Shipping firm didn’t obtain prior nod for ‘dangerous cargo’ 

  • A local shipping company, handling the vessel sailing under the flag of Antigua and Barbuda, from Rotterdam in the Netherlands to China, cited a “mechanical emergency” and sought permission from the harbour manager at the China-run Hambantota Port. 
  • However, the company did not declare that the cargo was radioactive material, a requirement under Sri Lanka’s Atomic Energy Act. 
  • The vessel was found to be carrying uranium hexafluoride, which is classified under “dangerous cargo”. 
  • Uranium hexachloride is nuclear material that is commonly transported from one country to another. 
  • But as per Sri Lankan law, they need any vessel carrying radioactive material to obtain prior permission before berthing at any of our ports. This vessel had not obtained that clearance. 

Magampura Mahinda Rajapaksa Port 

  • The Hambantota Port (also known as the Magampura Mahinda Rajapaksa Port) was to be a maritime port in Hambantota, Sri Lanka. 
  • The first phase of the port was opened on 18 November 2010, with the first ceremonial berthing of the naval ship "Jetliner" to use the port facilities. 
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  • It is named after former President Mahinda Rajapaksa. 
  • Hambantota Port is built inland and operated by the Sri Lanka Ports Authority. 

Significance of the location

  •  Sri Lanka is situated along the key shipping route between the Malacca Straits and the Suez Canal, which links Asia and Europe. 
  • An estimated 36,000 ships, including 4,500 oil tankers, use the route annually.
  • However the only major port in Sri Lanka, the Port of Colombo, is catered towards container handling and is unable to provide facilities for port related industries and services. 
  • Therefore, a new port was proposed near the city of Hambantota, which has a natural harbor and is located on the southern tip of Sri Lanka close to international shipping routes. 

SOURCE: THE HINDU 

 

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