The Wakashio Grounding And Oil Leak: Update
As many of us know by now, the oil carrier MV Wakashio ran aground on a reef off the southeast coast of Mauritius on the 25th of July 2020.
At first the vessel appeared stable, but from August 6 the hull was breached and this resulted in an oil spill in the lagoon.
The hydrocarbon leak apparently stopped after 500 metric tons of oil was leaked from the vessel. There are multiple skimming operations already in place that are doing their part in skimming the oil spillage. The Prime Minister, Pravind Jugnauth, has ensured that measures are being taken to secure the vessel’s remaining 800 metric tons of oil.
On August 7, a meeting was held with the government, civil society and private sector committee to discuss the situation. NGOs, such as Mauritian Wildlife Foundation, Reef Conservation and Eco-Sud, have since been employed to start making urgent steps in providing solutions to the dangers that this oil spill is causing for the surrounding ecosystems.
The public have been asked to stay away from the oil spill as the fumes are toxic and are a health hazard. All cleaning efforts are being done professionally, and volunteers are being coordinated by the relevant authorities.
The Prime Minister has thanked everyone who has responded to the country’s calls for help. He went on to say that the safety of the local communities should be a top priority.
The Threat To Marine Life
The layer of oil may look thin and somewhat harmless, but this oil spill is posing as a massive threat to the surrounding marine life.
Coral reef ecosystems are very fragile and the spillage may harm the corals and animals living in and amongst the coral reef, as well as surrounding mangroves, sea birds, turtles, dolphins, whales, fish and shellfish. The oil can impact marine life’s lungs, reproductive systems and immune systems in many harmful ways, often leading to organ failure.
This situation is definitely alarming for Mauritius, which boasts a diverse array of different marine life, with many marine animals that are not found anywhere else.
It is clear that everything within the relevant authority’s power is being done to clean up and contain the Wakashio oil spill, but much of the damage has already been done.
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