Wakashio shortly after it broke – IMO

Deteriorating weather conditions in Mauritius have seriously begun to impede the efforts to mitigate effects of the broken bulk carrier Wakashio. While rough seas are dispersing the oil, the strong surf has sent parts of the barriers set up to catch the oil up on to the shore itself.

Officials from France and other countries together with salvage experts from SMIT along with the International Maritime Organization are all working to assist the government of Mauritius with the wreck.

France minister Sébastien Lecornu, who has been sent by French President Emmanuel Macron, to Mauritius also spoke about the efforts. He reported that plans were under consideration for the bow section, which had been secured by tugs a short distance from the aft section which remains firmly ashore. According to the minister, he said they were considering taking the bow section out into the deep ocean and sinking it or that might be towed to another location to be dismantled. But after personally touring the area and seeing the extent of the environmental disaster the minister reportedly estimated that it will take at least 10 months for a proper cleanup.

“With new reports on oil spreading further in Mauritius’ pristine beaches, this is becoming the island’s worst ecological disaster… The break up of the Wakashio must accelerate the process of breaking free from fossil fuels.”

SMIT advised that the rough seas made it too dangerous to work on the vessel. They had hoped to pump residential oil from the engine room. The Crisis Committee reported that there are “approximately 30 cubic meters of mixed type of oil in the engine room.” Ariel pictures of the wreck show oil leaking of the area of the engine room into the ocean.

A wide range of environmentalist groups have additionally reacted to the scenes of devastation suggesting that the impact would linger far longer. Greenpeace Africa responded with a statement saying that it is about time to break free from fossil fuels.

With the Government of Mauritius emphasizing its appeal for compensation, a variety of experts have begun speaking out on the liabilities. Some insurance experts have begun to suggest the loss could top $500 million. The IMO, which dispatched specialists to the region, likewise gave foundation on a portion of the conventions for compensation. In its statement, the IMO said that its liability and compensation regime is partly in play for this incident. “The Wakashio has compulsory insurance under the 2001 Bunkers Convention concerning all material damage and pollution claims up to the applicable limits in accordance with relevant instruments (including LLMC) and national legislation in force. Given that the ship involved is a bulk carrier, other international conventions specific to pollution damage caused by oil tankers (such as the IOPC Fund regime) do not apply in this case.”

IMO response team is assisting in Mauritius – courtesy of the IMO

IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim also commented saying, “I would like to commend all those involved in the international efforts to support the Government of Mauritius and to mitigate the impact of the oil spill from the MV Wakashio. I look forward to a full investigation into the incident so that the results and findings can be brought to IMO and we can act on any recommendations.”

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