Sri Lanka Yet To Take Legal Action Against Imported UK Waste


Sri Lanka Customs and the Central Environmental Authority (CEA) to date had failed to take legal action against the companies that were responsible in bringing in here 263 containers of hazardous waste containers from United Kingdom.

With more garbage entering here, this time from Ukraine, environmentalists and authorities are up in arms. A senior Attorney-at-Law has told Earthlanka the Attorney General’s Department will shortly submit a report to parliament, spelling out government owned CEA’s and Customs Department’s irresponsible nature in delaying to file legal action against the companies that imported waste here

Environment Minister Mahinda Amaraweera said that he thought legal action was sorted on British garbage dumped. He added: “I would act immediately in this regard.” He also said that such activities should be completely stopped and on his capacity he would do the utmost.

Sri Lanka Customs Director Sunil Jayarathna said that a fresh team would appointed by the Customs Director General and that team would be assisted the sleuths of the Criminal Investigations Bureau (CID). Jayatathna on holiday stressed that he personal felt that the case was delayed. He said that the delay was due to Court order and Customs inquiry. He also said that they could nothing for months due Corona pandemic and most of the officials were quarantined. In September 21 hazardous containers were sent back to United Kingdom.

He said that they had decided on the penalties though environmentalists said Rs. 1.6 billion from the local agent while a separate penalty from the British company. He also said that such hazardous waste transfers were against the Basel Convention. The Customs Department said that they wanted to send the containers last year back to the UK and was awaited the verdict of the Court of Appeal. Colombo Metal Industries and ITL Colombo Limited used their licenses to import the hazardous waste. The container’s contents were supposed to comprise used mattresses, carpeting and rugs, but had also contained hospital waste, officials said.

Another 242 containers from Britain, which the government said were holding illegal waste in violation of international law, remain abandoned at the same port and at a free trade zone outside Colombo. They arrived between 2017 and 2018.