Johannesburg – Mauritius has said it is seeking compensation from the owners of a Japanese ship that spilled oil after it ran aground in the shallow waters off the Indian Ocean island nation, as urgent efforts continue. to pump out the remaining fuel.
The MV Wakashio dumped 1,000 tons of its 4,000-ton cargo of oil into the sea, littering the coastline of Mauritius, including a protected wetland. It threatens 35 years of work to restore the region, environmental activists said Wednesday.
It is estimated that 2,500 tons of fuel were pumped from the ship, stranded on a coral reef at Pointe d’Esny, a sanctuary for rare wildlife. Workers rush to empty the ship before it breaks in rough seas and further pollutes the shore.
Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth said Mauritius will seek compensation for the extensive environmental damage from the owner of the Wakashio, Nagashiki Shipping. He said the oil spill was a national disaster.
Reuters news agency reported on Thursday that Nagashiki officials said the company “feels its responsibility keenly” and intends to take action to assess compensation for the disaster, but nothing is wrong. ‘indicated how long this evaluation process might take.
Jugnauth’s government is under pressure to explain why it did not take immediate action to empty the ship when it ran aground on July 25. Two weeks later, after being hammered by the waves, the ship cracked and began to leak.
Some of the turquoise waters surrounding Mauritius were stained with black, muddy mangrove wetlands, and flooded the waterbirds and reptiles with sticky oil.
Thousands of Mauritians have been working for days to reduce the damage by making improvised booms out of cloth and stuffed with straw and cane leaves to try and contain the spread of the oil. Others picked up oil from shallow waters. It is estimated that around 400 tonnes of spilled material were removed from the sea.
France sent a warship, military planes and technical advisers to the neighboring island of Reunion after Mauritius called for help last week. Japanese experts have arrived on the island and are participating in the effort. The United Nations sends experts.
“It is essential that the vessel be emptied before it breaks,” said Jean Hugue Gardenne of the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation. “A lot of oil has been pumped in the last few days, but we can’t let it go. There is so much damage already.”
The wildlife foundation is alarmed that the oil spill will ruin the work it has done since 1985 to restore this area, Gardenne said.
“We have planted around 200,000 native trees to restore the coastal forest,” he told The Associated Press. “We have reintroduced endangered birds including the pink pigeon, olive white eye and the critically endangered Mauritius fody to Ile aux Aigrettes. Now all of this is under threat as the oil seeps in. in soil and coral reefs. “