[Watch] Mauritius Bulk Carrier Splits Into Two After Spilling Oil

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  • Japanese Cargo ship MK Wakashio ran aground on a reef off the coast of Mauritius with 4,000 tonnes of fuel onboard on July 25.
  • More than 1,000 tonnes of fuel has leaked into the sea and about 2,800 tonnes of fuel remained onboard the ship.
  • The oil slick has spread 7.1 miles from Blue Bay Marine Park on the east coast to the island of Ile aux Cerfs.
  • Salvage crews and volunteers successfully pumped all the fuel from the tanks of the giant cargo ship preventing a massive spill.
  • With about 100 tonnes remaining elsewhere on board, Wrecked MV Wakashio breaks up. 
  • Mauritius government seeks compensation for the leak from the owner and the insurer.  

Wrecked Japanese bulk carrier that ran aground off Mauritius threatening an environmental disaster ever faced in the Indian Ocean broke apart with about 100 tons of oil still aboard despite huge clean up effort, reports DailyMail.co.uk.

Bracing for the worst

The MV Wakashio had completed an 18 hour refueling stop in the Port of Singapore and had been just 12 days into its long journey to Brazil to pick up a heavy cargo of iron ore. 

Couple of days back, Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth said the response crews had managed to stymie the leak for now, but were bracing for the worst as the cracks have grown and the risk of the boat breaking in half still exists. 

For more information read our article [Watch] Damaged Bulker Spilling Fuel Oil Could Split!

How the boat broke apart

The below aerial footage shows the remains of MV Wakashio

Below is the huge crack pictured in the hull of the Japanese-owned MV Wakashio.

Aerial images of the bulk carrier taken on August 16, 2020, show how the boat completely broke into two parts near Blue Bay Marine Park, Mauritius.

The below images show how the hull of the boat has completely split in two.

The Mauritius National Crisis Committee’s statement confirmed the ship’s breakage on Saturday. They said, “At around 4.30pm [12:30 GMT], a major detachment of the vessel’s forward section was observed.”

Massive oil spill prevented

A devastating oil slick has spread 7.1 miles from Blue Bay Marine Park on the east coast to the island of Ile aux Cerfs.

Days after Japanese rescue teams managed to pump the remaining oil off the vehicle to prevent another massive oil spill into the pristine waters, the bulker tore in two parts.

 On Tuesday, Mauritius Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth confirmed that all the fuel had been pumped from the reservoirs of the Japanese-owned MV Wakashio, with about 100 tonnes remaining elsewhere on board the vessel. 

He added, ‘It was a race against the clock, and I salute the excellent work to prevent another oil spill.

According to an article published in BBC, a spill three times the size of this was averted. Nevertheless a uniquely biodiversity-rich marine ecosystem has been polluted with nearly 1,000 tonnes of fuel oil.

Last week, Mr Jugnauth declared a state of emergency and appealed for international help.

Since then, volunteers have also been collecting straw from fields and filling sacks to make barriers against the oil.

For more information read our article For more information read our article [Watch] Emergency Declared As Stranded Bulker Spills Fuel Oil.

Fishermen and skippers tend to a makeshift oil extraction device at the Mahebourg Waterfront in Riviere des Creoles, Mauritius.

 

Volunteers placing handmade oil barriers in the sea at the Mahebourg Waterfront in Riviere des Creoles, Mauritius.

Unanswered question

The eyes of the shipping world are now firmly on Mauritius. The questions that remain unanswered are:

  • the cause of the accident,
  • how such a large bulk carrier that was full of toxic heavy fuel oil, was being carried in a single hull vessel, 
  • how it plowed straight into the pristine reefs of Mauritius without any indication of attempting to change speed or direction.

An inquiry into the cause of the accident has begun in Mauritius, as the Wakashio’s vessel owners have sent salvage and containment vessels into the area.

What caused the delay?

According to SBSNews, the owner of the ship, the Japanese Nagashiki shipping company took three weeks to attend the scene. The Mauritian government also has been criticised for doing too little in the week after the ship crashed into the reef. 

In response to the company’s delayed arrival, Greenpeace wrote: ‘Many unanswered questions remain.’

  • Why was your vessel sailing so dangerously close to the reef? 
  • Why have you done so little since the ship ran aground? 
  • What will you do to reduce the damage to the environment, and the pain and suffering of those whose livelihoods depend on it?’

Factors that makes the spill toxic

According to an article published in Forbes, the five factors that makes this spill a particularly toxic combination are: 

  1. the nature of heavy fuel bunker oil, 
  2. the volume of the spill, 
  3. the location of the spill amid some of the most endangered (but well monitored) species on the planet, 
  4. the added potency of Mauritius’ tropical sunshine on heavy bunker fuel oil, and 
  5. the time of the year when the cooler Southern Hemisphere winter that usually attracts whales for breeding off the coast at this time of year, also traps heavy oil remnants for longer.

This could mean the effect of this pollution could be felt for decades to come.

Government seeks compensation

Mauritius government, in a statement stressed that the government will not be accepting responsibility, and will seek compensation for the leak from “the owner and the insurer” for clean-up costs, losses and damages, and for anyone whose livelihood was affected by the spill.  

Japanese firm Nagashiki Shipping has pledged to respond to requests for compensation.

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Source: DailyMail.co.uk, Forbes, BBC

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