Almost All Fuel Pumped Out Of Shipwreck After Mauritius Oil Spill
Almost all of the fuel oil from the ship that ran aground off the coast of Mauritius, causing a huge oil spill, has been pumped out, Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth has said.
The Wakashio bulk carrier ship began to break up in rough seas after it was grounded at Pointe d’Esny on July 25 while carrying roughly 4,000 tonnes of fuel oil, with the incident being declared a ‘state of environmental emergency’ shortly afterwards.
Now, more than 3,000 of the 4,000 tonnes of fuel oil has been pumped out from the ship’s fuel reservoirs, with a small amount remaining on board elsewhere, according to Jugnauth.
The operation has been a constant race against time since the MV Wakashio ran aground last month amid fears the ship would break up completely, leading to an even greater leak and inflicting potentially catastrophic damage to the country’s coastal waters and marine wildlife.
But with help from France, which sent a military aircraft with pollution-control equipment, and Japan, which sent a six-member team to assist the French efforts, officials from Mauritius have successfully transferred most of the fuel to shore and to another ship via helicopter.
Volunteers have also been collecting straw from fields and filling sacks to make barriers against the oil in recent days, with some even making their own tubes with tights and hair to add to the effort.
Police spokesperson Shiva Cooten said they ‘still have work to do but the situation is all under control’, the BBC reported.
And while the prime minister’s announcement that almost all the remaining fuel oil from the ship has been pumped out is certainly good news, the fact remains that Pointe d’Esny has already been polluted by nearly 1,000 tonnes of oil.
Pointe d’Esny – a known sanctuary for rare wildlife – is one of the few biodiversity-rich marine ecosystems left on Earth, and also contains wetlands designated as a site of international importance.
Marine biologists say the spill is enough to have long-term consequences for the entire marine life – from coral reefs to endangered animals and birds – which the Mauritian economy relies on for tourism.
Akihiko Ono, the executive vice-president of the ship’s operator, Mitsui OSK Lines, has ‘profusely’ apologised for the oil spill, acknowledging ‘the great trouble we have caused’. He has vowed the company will do ‘everything in their power to resolve the issue’.
Authorities in Mauritius say they have been granted a search warrant that will allow them to board the vessel and take away items of interest in order to help with an investigation.
The ship’s captain will assist officers with their search.
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