Sri Lanka returns waste to UK after court battle

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Sri Lanka has started returning 242 containers of hazardous waste, including biomedical, illegally to the country after a two-year court battle that lasted two years, officials said on Saturday.

The first 20 containers of biomedical waste, some from mortuaries, were loaded onto the MV Texas Triumph on Friday, and another 65 containers will be loaded within a week, customs spokesman Sunil Jayaratne said.

“The rest will be sent as soon as another boat is available,” he added.

A court ordered on September 14 the return to the United Kingdom of these containers. The court of appeal had also ordered legal proceedings against the local importer who had brought in between September 2017 and January 2018 this waste, particularly from hospitals and morgues and including parts of human bodies, claiming that they were intended to be recycled.

The militant organization Center for Environmental Justice (CEJ) had seized the court to request the repatriation of the containers.

According to Sri Lankan customs, the waste, which also included tons of plastic, was all imported in violation of local and international regulations.

According to the authorities, who had been alerted by the stench of the containers, found abandoned at the port of Colombo and in a neighboring free zone, they contained in particular bandages, rags and parts of human bodies from mortuaries.

Several Asian countries, tired of being the dumping ground for large developed countries, have returned containers of waste to their country of origin over the past two years. Among them are the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia.

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