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 11, 2020. REUTERS/Reuben Pillay
Around 1,000 metric tons of Very Low Sulphur Fuel Oil is estimated to have leaked from the grounded MV Wakashio in Mauritius, according to the ship owner Nagashiki Shipping Co. of Japan.
The vessel is estimated to have contained approximately 3,800 metric tons of VLSFO and 200 MT of diesel onboard when it grounded on July 25, according to the ship owner.
As of August 11, approximately 1,020 MT of VLSFO had been pumped out and transferred onto small tankers. About 1,600 MT of VLSFO and about 200 MT of diesel remain on the ship, and the transfer work is continuing, Nagashiki said.
The company also confirmed the crack in the ship’s hull has expanded, putting the ship at risk of breaking up.
“We confirm the crack inside the hull of the ship had expanded. The situation is being continuously monitored by a professional team of salvors. Since this ship is unable to navigate by itself, a tow connection has been established between a tug and the Wakashio. In order to secure the vessel so that it will not drift,” the company said.
The MV Wakashio was without cargo when it ran aground on July 25 at approximately 1925LT off Mauritius’ Pointe d’Esny during a voyage from Singapore to Brazil. The ship was initially reported stable, but its condition deteriorated in bad weather resulting in a breach of a bunker tank on August 6, leading the Mauritian government to declare an environmental emergency.
The impact area includes protected coral reefs and lagoons, including the Blue Bay Marine Park and Ile aux Aigrettes island.
All 20 crew members have been removed from the vessel and are safe.
SMIT Salvage has heading the salvage operation in coordination with Mauritian authorities.
The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has also joined in on the effort by deploying an oil spill response expert with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)/United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) Joint Environment Unit.
A police investigation into the grounding has been initiated. According to the Mauritian authorities, the National Coast Guard (NCG) Radar Operators first spotted the Wakashio when it was 11.5 nautical miles offshore and took a “series of actions” to contact the vessel without success. It wasn’t until after the grounding that the Master communicated that the ship had last control and grounded. No MAYDAY or distress signal was ever sent.
In a statement to parliament on Tuesday, Prime Minister Pravind Kumar Jugnauth said the government “will ensure that the insurance company of MV Wakashio compensates the state and any other entity or person affected by the calamity.”
The MV Wakashio was built in 2007 by Universal Shipbuilding in Kawasaki, Japan. It has a deadweight of 203,130 tonnes and measures 300 meters in length. It is registered in Panama.
The Wakashio’s operator, Mitsui OSK Lines, has apologized for the incident.
“We have dispatched 2 members from our company for the purpose of local response. They have been confirmed with negative PCR results and departed for the site. We will continue to consider the additional dispatch of personnel and transportation of supplies,” Tuesday’s statement from the ship owner said. “We will continue to fully cooperate with the authorities of Mauritius and Japan to work and resolve the situation as soon as possible. We will do our best to protect the environment and prevent the spread of the oil spill.”
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