Now that the ship fire is over, Sri Lanka is facing an environmental disaster of epic proportions. In an article published by the Washington Post, we learned that after more than a week of the fire burning on the ship, billions of pieces of plastic bits are washing up on the beaches of Sri Lanka.

There’s no way to clean the littered beaches other than scraping the debris from the sand–a mundane task the Army has been assigned to do.

“It’s an environmental disaster,” aid a local marine biologist, Asha de Vos.

It’s unclear how the fire started, but the crew first alerted authorities to flames coming from the cargo hold on May 20. Authorities in Sri Lanka suspect that the fire was caused by a leak in one of the ship’s nitric acid containers. Nitric acid is used in fertilizer, and it is often used by crazy bomb makers to create explosives.

After initial attempts by crew members to subdue the fire, the fire blew up after an unexpected explosion occurred.

Soon after the explosion, 25 crew members were evacuated, two of them having sustained injuries.

The fire and ensuing environmental disaster come at a terrible time for the nation of Sri Lanka which relies heavily on tourism to keep its economy afloat and which has suffered greatly because of the worldwide COVID travel shutdowns.

Another challenging element to the disaster is the fact that not just anybody from the community is welcome to help in the clean-up effort. The reason is because the plastic debris is toxic and requires special handling procedures.