No barrier to send back UK waste containers - CA | Daily News


No barrier to send back UK waste containers - CA

Containers lying at Colombo Port, Katunayake FTZ:

The Court of Appeal yesterday observed that there was no barrier to send back the waste material containers currently lying at the Colombo Port and the Katunayake Free Trade Zone.

The two-judge Court of Appeal bench of Justice (President) A.H.M.D. Nawaz and Justice Arjuna Obeysekera made this clarification following the Attorney General’s query whether an interim order which had been issued by Court of Appeal would hinder the repatriation process.

The Court of Appeal also issued an order directing the Central Environmental Authority that the progress of the discussions underway with UK authorities to repatriate these consignments of containers, be submitted to Court on May 4.

The Court was informed that both Sri Lankan and United Kingdom (UK) Authorities have agreed to repatriate the concerned waste material containers. Meanwhile, Ceylon Metal Processing Corporation yesterday raised objections to the repatriation process.

This petition had been filed by Centre for Environmental Justice and its Executive Director Hemantha Ranjith Sisira Kumara naming Central Environmental Authority, Customs Director General, Hayleys Free Zone Limited (HFZ), Ceylon Metal Processing Corporation and the Attorney General as respondents.

The Court of Appeal had observed that the legality or illegality of the consignment of containers would depend on the exact nature of the goods. The elements contained in the consignments have not been proved by the experts.

Petitioners are further seeking a Writ of Certiorari quashing the validity of all documents or permits granted by any authority to import waste in violation of the provisions of the National Environmental Act.

The petitioners state that some importers have imported consignments of waste material which includes clinical waste, used cushions and mattresses, plant parts, plastic waste and other uncategorised and hazardous waste into country from the United Kingdom in the guise of importing permitted consignments with the intention of disposing such waste in the country, which may cause severe damage on the environment as well as cause severe threats on the health of the country’s public.

The petitioners state that if any such consignments containing chemical waste are permitted to be buried in our soil or sent to open dumps, the underground water table and the surrounding environment will be severely affected thereby polluting and contaminating surrounding water bodies.

Petitioners said hazardous chemicals in the waste may also cause adverse health risks including cancer and kidney diseases when such waste is buried, disposed or exposed without adhering to the accepted methods for disposal of such waste. The Petitioners also state that the local population will be exposed to severe health risks due to the pathogens in the clinical or other waste found in the imported waste.This could also have negative impacts on the Biodiversity in the country.

The Petitioners further state that all such alleged imports of waste have been done without adhering to the terms of the BASEL Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal for which Sri Lanka is a signatory and had ratified the said convention in 1992. The Petitioners further state that disposal of waste could be done only under a permit issued by the Central Environmental Authority under and in terms of the National Environmental Act No.47 of 1980 as amended.

Counsel Ravindranath Dabare with Nilmal Wickremasinghe appeared for the petitioner. Senior Deputy Solicitor General Milinda Gunatilleke with Senior State Counsel Charuka Ekanayake appeared for the Attorney General.

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