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Stricken bulk carrier lying on reef off Mauritius at risk of splitting in two

Locals have spent the past days fabricating their own oil booms made out straw, clothing, plastic bottles and dried sugar cane leaves and yet the oil continues to flow from the Wakashio bulk carrier around the delicate, pristine shorelines of south and eastern Mauritius. Worse still, bad weather and the sharp corals the giant 203,000 dwt ship is sitting on have led local authorities to warn the empty, creaking vessel is at risk of splitting up.

More than 1,000 tonnes of bunker fuel have seeped from the bulk carrier in and around UNESCO protected reef sites and the ship, which ran aground on July 25 while not following local navigational guidelines, still has more than 2,000 tonnes of fuel onboard.

The cracks have grown. The situation is even worse

The authorities have ordered two tankers, Elise and Tresta Star, and tugs to assist with the removal of the fuel oil from the Wakashio. A hose connection has been successfully established with Elise, which is alongside and the transfer of fuel oil is underway.

Additionally, helicopters have been deployed to transfer containers of fuel oil removed from the site.

Prime minister Pravind Jugnauth warned on Sunday: “The cracks have grown. The situation is even worse.” Jugunath told reporters there was a chance the ship could split in two.

The government has faced criticism for its slow response to the accident and the nation’s lack of oil spill response infrastructure. France has dispatched urgently needed equipment from its island of Reunion 200 km west of Mauritius.

The 300 m long ship is owned by Japan’s Nagashiki Shipping and on charter to Mitsui OSK Lines (MOL).

In a news conference Sunday in Tokyo, Akihiko Ono, MOL’s executive vice president apologised for the spill and “the great trouble we have caused.”

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Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.

Comments

  1. Akihiko Ono will have a relaxed dinner with champagne today. That old ship is abandoned and the insurer is obliged to pay MOL a large sum of money.

  2. Sam, it would be useful if you could probe beyond the facile press releases from owners and their media control consultants. The parties that already know the underlying cause of this incident and what’s going on are the vessel’s P&I Club and their attending surveyors. How about some real investigative journalism please?

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