Lastest Spill News and Opinions
MV Wakashio starts to break up but the clean up has many months to go whist the analysis of what went wrong begins.
As expected MV Wakashio broke in two last Saturday and released more pollution into the once pristine waters around the coral reef which it struck on 25 July.
With 89 spill response professionals on the ground and plenty of local volunteers there is the resource in place to clean up the consequences of this oil spill.
This will be a long job with one of the French companies involved saying this could take 10 months, though for local people they really need this to be much quicker.
For Mauritian people, tourism is an essential business area and the source of their livelihood. COVID has reduced this to a trickle and now this spill will cut most of this off completely.
What draws people to Mauritius is the sea, the sea food, the diving, the mangroves and so much beauty around the coastline. Yes, this is only one part of coastline but it is the jewel in Mauritius tourism crown and one of the most bio diverse sites in the world, it has international protection but is now strewn with oil.
Mauritians will ask its Government lots of questions some of which are raised in this thought provoking article:
Some of the possible questions are:
What happened on the ship to prevent the MV Wakashio not altering course and speed to avoid hitting the reef at cruising speed?
What did the Mauritius coastguard do to prevent the grounding?
Once grounded why did it take so long to remove the fuel from the vessel so the source of potential pollution was removed?
The first oil spilled on 6 August so what lack of decision making caused the delay when the pollution contingency plan had been enacted?
If there was nearly two week from impact to first loss or product, why was the loss not contained? With booms, skimmers and pollution recovery vessels?
Where was the equipment that was provided by various international agencies in two tranches of investment in pollution control to protect against the consequences of such a grounding in coastal waters?
Fortunately the work done, in difficult conditions, to remove the bulk of the oil means that it is likely only 800 tons of oil has not been recovered and reached the shore. Why was this not recovered at sea before it reached the shore where it is hardest to recover and does the most damage?
Where was the local expertise and co-ordination built up and invested in by international bodies?
Why did it require foreign aid and assistance, from France, Japan, India, Madagascar, to really get things moving?
How can remediation be accelerated to protect from long term environmental harm?
Lots of questions to be answered. There are valuable lessons to be learned from this as international shipping is forecast to grow. Will the learning be shared so that another incident can be avoided.
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