Mauritius residents and NGOs working hard to contain oil spill

13 Août, 2020, 15:27 | Auteur: Therese Cote
  • An oil spill can be seen coming from the MV Wakashio off the coast of Mauritius

Urgent efforts continue in Mauritius to empty a stranded Japanese ship of an estimated 2500 tons of oil before the vessel breaks up and increases the contamination of the island's once-pristine Indian Ocean coastline.

This photo provided by the French Defense Ministry shows oil leaking from the MV Wakashio, a bulk carrier ship that recently ran aground off the southeast coast of Mauritius, Aug.9, 2020. She said many Mauritians were donating their hair - "which absorbs oil but not water".

"The salvage team has observed several cracks in the ship hull, which means that we are facing a very serious situation", Jugnauth said in a televised speech, parts of which were made available to Reuters by his office.

"We should prepare for a worst-case scenario".

"It is clear that at some point the ship will fall apart", he said Monday night in a televised speech. "Helicopters are taking out the fuel little by little, ton by ton".

The incident happened when a Tanker MV Wakashio carrying over 4000 tonnes of fuel got stuck in a reef at Pointe d'Esny. The accident occurred in a particularly sensitive area: Pointe d'Esny is a well-known sanctuary for rare wildlife, as well as wetlands that have been designated as a site of worldwide importance.

"We are starting to see dead fish".

"The sinking of the #Wakashio represents a danger for Mauritius", Jugnauth said.

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John Bellamy Foster, who spoke in Mauritius in October 2019, warned that: "In terms of the coral reefs and all the dangers to the ecosystems, Mauritius is one of those countries most at risk". Mauritius depends on the surrounding ocean for survival as it provides a means of tourism as well as a food source for most of the island's inhabitants.

The government has declared an environmental emergency and France said it was sending help from its nearby Reunion island. France sent a navy ship, military aircraft and technical advisers after Mauritius appealed for global help Friday, while Japan said it would send a six-member expert team to assist.

Thick muck has coated mangrove forests and unspoiled inlets up and down the coastline, exacting irreparable harm and undoing years of painstaking conservation work, environmental activists say.

The island nation's economy relies on tourism and fishing, which the oil spill threatens.

A statement issued by the Country's Environment Ministry said the vessel, MV Wakashio, had reported a "leakage of oil", and its crew had been evacuated.

Neither Mitsui OSK Lines nor Nagashiki Shipping, the ship's owner, could confirm the cost of damages from the oil spill.

That left almost 2,000 tonnes of oil on the ship, he said at a press conference late Monday. Mitsui could come under heavy fire for its role in the accident, according to Nikkei Asian Review. The full impact of the spill remains unknown. Let us know in the comments...

Mitsui O.S.K. Lines Executive Vice President Akihiko Ono speaks at a news conference in Tokyo on Sunday.

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