PORT LOUIS, Mauritius: The broken stem of a Japanese-owned ship which ran aground causing a devastating oil spill in pristine waters off Mauritius, has been successfully sunk in the open ocean.
The owners of Nagashiki Shipping, said on Tuesday August 25 that they had completed scuttling of the front part of the MV Wakashio vessel at sea on Monday as instructed by local authorities
A Japanese-owned bulk carrier MV Wakashio ran aground off Mauritius on a coral reef off the Indian Ocean island on July 25 and began leaking oil two weeks later, prompting a race against time to pump all the fuel off the bulk carrier before breaking into two.
Following a successful operation, two tugboats last week began towing the larger, forward section of the vessel some 15km out into the open ocean, where it has been sunk to a depth of 3,180m while the smaller section of the vessel remains wedged on the reef where the shipwreck occurred.
Mauritius crisis committee in a statement on Monday said,
“The planned sinking of the stem (forward) section of the casualty has been completed and at around 3.30pm was no longer visible on the sea surface,”
In a warning opposing the plan last week, Greenpeace said that sinking the vessel would “risk biodiversity and contaminate the ocean with large quantities of heavy metal toxins”.
More than 1,000 tonnes of oil spilled into the pristine waters that have long been a major draw for honeymooners, and contain precious mangroves and coral reefs.
Besides a group of British scientists who arrived in the country last week to cordinate an impact assessment on what damage has been done to the island and how to help the eco-system recover, are international experts from Japan and France assisting on the spill.
Senior British marine monitoring scientist Dr Sue Ware told AFP the team would help “determine the footprint of the oil both on the shoreline and … whether it has managed to reach any areas of the seabed” and how it has impacted mangroves, coral reefs and different marine species.
She said efforts by Mauritius to place booms in the water appeared to have been successful in preventing oil from reaching the protected Blue Bay wetlands area.
Meanwhile, the captain of the ship and his second-in-command were arrested last Tuesday. It remains a mystery why the Ship making it’s way to Brazil from Singapore came close to the island.
Liberty Pazvakawambwa SADC News