MT Tresta Star aground on Reunion Island. Image from video posted by Prefet La Reunion

Tresta Star Wreck to Be Abandoned on Reunion Island

GCaptain
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December 12, 2022

By Vel Moonien in Mauritius (gCaptain) –

Tresta Star won’t be removed off the coast of Réunion Island.

Due to the fact that the wreck removal will be too expensive and too dangerous, authorities have decided it would be better to let nature destroy what remains of the bunker barge. 

The least worst scenario was chosen by the French authorities. The wreck will remain stranded on the Pointe du Tremblet, where Tresta Star grounded back in early February while fleeing tropical cyclone Batsirai in the southern part of the Indian Ocean.

“There are sometimes situations in which there are no good solutions, only less bad ones,” said Jérôme Filippini, the Préfet of Réunion Island during a press conference last Wednesday. He assured all the possibilities of dismantling the Mauritian vessel have been explored and that he agreed to side the opinion of Dutch salvage consultant Kommer Tanis, working with TSC Holland BV which has been mandated by the owners of the vessel via their insurer P & I Club to work on this case.

“It is very unsatisfactory. We are all frustrated, but it seems to be confirmed that the least bad solution will be to let the Tresta Star be dismantled naturally by the sea,” added Filippini.

“It’s the first time I am encountering such a situation,” Kommer Tanis told Le Quotidien de la Réunion, the leading daily paper on the island. A salvage operation in Pointe du Tremblet would cause more harm to the environment, and it would be way better to let nature take its course, he said.

Photos and Video Show Grounded Tanker on Reunion Island

Three options had been entertained: a wreckage removal by sea, air or land. Due to a steady swell in that area, the first one was dropped. The third one was abandoned too as a road for heavy machinery to access the wreck would have taken two whole years to construct. Kommer Tanis says that part of the ship will be completely dismantled by next February or March with the upcoming cyclone season.

Last March, the Préfet, the highest ranking representative of the French authority on the island, had given the owner of the Tresta Star one month to submit a plan for the wreck removal. Clean-up work was done by Greek company, Five Ocean Salvage (FOS). A formal notice was sent under Sections L.5142-1 and L.5242-18 of the Transport Code to Tresta Trading and its insurer, MS Amlin, on 28 March.

Both were asked to furnish details about the methods which will be deployed and the measures to be adopted for the treatment of waste from the bunker barge. The Préfet then considered the wreck as a source of marine and visual pollution in this part of Reunion Island, which is a nature park.

The Tresta Star, flying the Mauritian flag, ran aground in Pointe du Tremblet after an engine breakdown while fleeing intense tropical cyclone Batsirai which was nearing Mauritius and Reunion Island.

The accident happened after Port-Louis’ harbor authorities had asked Tresta Star’s captain to move to high seas. Chinese company Lianyungang Dali Underwater Engineering and Polygreen was recruited for the salvage operation. Both had just finished dismantling the bow of the MV Wakashio, in southeast of Mauritius. However, they left Reunion Island two weeks later due to a default of payment. 

The LOF (Lloyd’s Open Form) signed between these two companies and MS Amlin had become null and void, a wreck removal having become necessary in view of damage suffered by the Tresta Star during rough seas associated with tropical cyclone Emnati, which hit the island a few weeks after the initial grounding.

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