Friday, August 7, 2020

Large bulk carrier grounds in Mauritius

Authorities have confirmed that fuel is leaking from a crack in the hull.

From The Guardian by AFP

MV Wakashio breaking up after running aground at Pointe d’Esny near marine park

The Indian Ocean island of Mauritius is facing an environmental crisis after oil began leaking from a bulk carrier that ran aground in July and started to break up in rough seas.

The MV Wakashio bulk carrier ran aground near Blue bay Marine Park in southeast Mauritius Photograph: Dev Ramkhelawon/L'Express Maurice/AFP/Getty Images

“We are in an environmental crisis situation,” said the environment minister, Kavy Ramano, while the fishing minister, Sudheer Maudhoo, said: “This is the first time that we are faced with a catastrophe of this kind and we are insufficiently equipped to handle this problem.”

The ministers said all attempts to stabilise the ship had failed because of rough seas and efforts to pump out the oil had also failed. Ecologists fear the ship could break up, which would cause an even greater leak and inflict potentially catastrophic damage on the island’s coastline.
“The ministry has been informed … that there is a breach in the vessel MV Wakashio and there is a leakage of oil,” said an environment ministry statement.
“The public in general, including boat operators and fishers, are requested not to venture on the beach and in the lagoons of Blue Bay, Pointe d’Esny and Mahebourg.”

Images from social media showed a slick of black oil spreading out from the stricken carrier.

The carrier, belonging to a Japanese company but Panamanian-flagged, ran aground on 25 July and its crew was evacuated safely.
The ship had no payload at the time but was carrying 200 tonnes of diesel and 3,800 tonnes of bunker fuel, according to the local press.
Shipping websites say the Wakashio was built in 2007 with gross weight of 101,000 tonnes and able to carry 203,000 tonnes, and a length of 299.95 metres (984 feet).

 Localization of the grounding (ENC)

Pointe d'Esny with the GeoGarage platform (SHOM nautical raster chart)
The "Dalblair" shipwreck off Pointe d’Esny holds an important piece of the island’s history.

The Dalblair was a Scottish cargo ship built in 1895, weighing 1474 tons.
Caught in a cyclone on 04 February 1902, she ran aground on the reef of Pointe D'Esny in the morning of 05 February, after a merciless struggle by the crew.

The grounding happened at Pointe d’Esny, which is listed under the Ramsar convention on wetlands of international importance and near the marine park of Blue Bay.

Anti-pollution systems had been sent to the two sites, the ministry said, adding that the government was asking the French Indian Ocean island of La Reunion for assistance.

The country depends on its seas for food and for tourism, boasting some of the finest coral reefs in the world.

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