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.”