Mauritius facing ‘unprecedented environmental’ crisis following oil spill in sensitive waters

Mauritius facing 'unprecedented environmental' crisis following oil spill in sensitive waters
Georges de La Tremoille/MU press via The Associated Press/CBC
This photo taken Friday shows oil leaking from the MV Wakashio, a bulk carrier ship that recently ran aground off the southeast coast of Mauritius.

Mauritius, a small island nation in the Indian Ocean, is facing an unprecedented environmental crisis following an oil spill in sensitive waters nearby, government officials say.

MV Wakashio, a Japanese-owned bulk carrier with roughly 4,000 tonnes of fuel, has been spewing oil into sensitive turquoise waters after it ran aground near southeastern Mauritius.

Satellite images showing oil spreading in the turquoise waters near sensitive environmental areas known as Blue Bay Marine Park, Iles aux Aigrettes and Ramsar, prompted the country’s Prime Minister, Pravind Jugnauth, to declare an “environmental state of emergency.”

In a release, the country’s environment minister, Kavydass Ramano, said the government is doing everything it can to contain the spill.

Ramano said a total of 400 sea booms have been deployed to secure the sensitive areas around the stranded vessel, which has a cracked hull and continues to leak fuel.

He said the country is facing an “unprecedented environmental situation” because the bulk carrier is grounded in environmentally sensitive waters that include areas known as Blue Bay Marine Park, Iles aux Aigrettes, and Ramsar.

According to the release, Mauritius has appealed to neighbouring countries for help and an 11-member salvage team attempting to stabilize the ship had to be evacuated because of cracks in the ship hull.

The minister also said the priority is to pump nearly 4,000 tonnes of fuel from the vessel as soon as possible and that “necessary” equipment from Greece is currently on its way to Mauritius.

With files from CBC.



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