Wakashio Grounding: Photos Show Environmental Disaster Unfolding in Mauritius

Mike Schuler
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August 10, 2020

A general view shows the bulk carrier ship MV Wakashio, that ran aground on a reef, at Riviere des Creoles, Mauritius, in this handout image obtained by Reuters on August 10, 2020. French Army command/Handout via REUTERS

New images are coming in from the Indian Ocean island nation of Mautitius showing the extent of the oil spill from the grounded bulk carrier Wakashio.

The MV Wakashio was underway from Singapore to Brazil when it grounded on July 25 off Mautitius’ Pointe d’Esny. The vessel, which was initially stable, now appears to be breaking up on the reef with a noticeable sag in the hull and a crack forming in the hull.

A general view shows the bulk carrier ship MV Wakashio, belonging to a Japanese company but Panamanian-flagged, that ran aground on a reef, at Riviere des Creoles, Mauritius, August 10, 2020. REUTERS/Dev Ramkhelawon/L’Express Maurice

The MV Wakashio is owned by the Nagashiki Shipping Company and operated by Mitsui OSK Line. Both firms have apologized for the harm caused as a result of the incident.

SMIT Salvage is working Mauritian authorities and a local firm on salvaging the vessel. A statement from Nagashiki Shipping Company on Monday provided some new details on the operation.

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

Additionally, helicopters have been deployed to transfer containers of fuel oil removed from the site. The situation is being closely monitored by a team of specialists in coordination with Mauritian Authorities and a tow connection has been established between tug and the Wakashio to help secure the vessel.

A further salvage tug has arrived in the Port of St Luis with additional personnel and specialist salvage equipment.

Photos from the scene show thick, black bunker fuel entering the lagoon.

A general view shows the bulk carrier ship MV Wakashio, that ran aground on a reef, at Riviere des Creoles, Mauritius, in this handout image obtained by Reuters on August 10, 2020. French Army command/Handout via REUTERS
A satellite image shows the bulk carrier ship MV Wakashio and its oil spill after it ran aground off the southeast coast of Mauritius, August 7, 2020. Satellite image 2020 Maxar Technologies/via REUTERS.

The ship was reported to be carrying 3,894 tonnes of low-sulphur fuel oil, 207 tonnes of diesel and 90 tonnes of lube oil, according to an earlier statement from Mauritius’ Minister of the Environment, Kavi Ramano.

At least 1,000 tonnes of oil has been estimated to have leaked so far.

Mauritius prime minister’s office said Monday the ship is still holding about 2,000 tonnes of oil in two undamaged tanks.

Locals have joined the cleanup effort on shore.

A still image taken from a drone video shows a cleanup crew working at the site of an oil spill after the bulk carrier ship MV Wakashio ran aground on a reef, at Riviere des Creoles, Mauritius, August 8, 2020. REUBEN PILLAY/REUBSVISION.MU, Virtual Tour of Mauritius/via REUTERS
A general view shows the leaked oil from the bulk carrier ship MV Wakashio, belonging to a Japanese company but Panamanian-flagged, that ran aground on a reef, at Riviere des Creoles, Mauritius, August 10, 2020. REUTERS/Dev Ramkhelawon/L’Express Maurice
A still image taken from a drone video shows an oil spill after the bulk carrier ship MV Wakashio ran aground on a reef, at Riviere des Creoles, Mauritius, August 8, 2020. REUBEN PILLAY/REUBSVISION.MU, Virtual Tour of Mauritius/via REUTERS
A man collects leaked oil from the bulk carrier ship MV Wakashio, belonging to a Japanese company but Panamanian-flagged, that ran aground on a reef, at Riviere des Creoles, Mauritius, August 10, 2020. REUTERS/Dev Ramkhelawon/L’Express Maurice
A volunteer is seen in the leaked oil from the bulk carrier ship MV Wakashio, belonging to a Japanese company but Panamanian-flagged, that ran aground on a reef, at Riviere des Creoles, Mauritius, August 10, 2020. REUTERS/Dev Ramkhelawon/L’Express Maurice

“Nagashiki Shipping deeply apologise to the people of Mauritius and will do their utmost protect the environment and mitigate the effects of the pollution,” the ship owner said.

 

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