Mauritius declares state of environmental emergency after oil leak

oil tanker 336996 640On 7 August, the Prime Minister of Mauritius, Pravind Jugnauth, declared a ‘state of environmental emergency’ after a ship landed off the island nation's coast started to spill oil

MW Wakashio, the bulk carrier vessel, carried nearly 4,200 metric tonnes of fuel when it landed on the Point d’Esny reef on July 25.

The ship is situated in the vicinity of environmentally sensitive and vital areas, including Point d’Esny Wetlands, Ile aux Aigrettes Nature Reserve, Blue Bay Marine Area and Mahebourg Fishing Reserve.

The Mauritian government has been calling for international support to respond to the crisis. Poor weather conditions have complicated salvage efforts, which are expected to deteriorate on 9 August.

Kavydass Ramano, minister of Environment, Solid Waste Management and Climate Change, said, “The country is facing an unprecedented environmental situation as the vessel is in a very sensitive area.”

In an emailed statement, the Nagashiki Shipping, which owns and manages the vessel, stated, “Due to the bad weather and constant pounding over the past few days, the starboard side bunker tanker has been breached and a quantity of fuel oil has escaped into the sea.”

The government has said it is taking all necessary steps to contain the MV Wakashio oil spill. Some 400 sea booms have been deployed to secure sensitive areas and, according to Minister Ramano, additional sea booms are being used following the detection of cracks in the hull of the ships.

A command post was established to monitor the situation, and the Minister has called on all private maritime operators to join forces to limit the spread of the spill.

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