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Mauritius threatened with second oil spill

The Japanese bulk carrier that ran aground off Mauritius in August.

Mauritius has been threatened with a second oil spill after a barge carrying oil from the stricken Japanese bulk carrier which ran aground last month collided with a tugboat.

The tug was also involved in the salvage operation and has sunk in a coral lagoon on the northeastern coast of Mauritius.

The oil carried by the barge was being transported to Port-Louis harbour and a second spill is now threatened. Two of its eight crew members lost their lives while four more have been rescued. A search for the two remaining crew members is ongoing.

“A second major oil spill would devastate this pristine environment,” said Vijay Naraidoo, co-director of local human rights organisation Dis Moi.

Both Greenpeace and Dis Moi have called on the Mauritian government for more transparency and accountability with regards to the rescue operation. According to Dis Moi, the last official statement on the oil pumped out of the stricken bulk carrier was received on August 11. Since then there has been no official update.

“The details of the operation have not been disclosed,” said Naraidoo. “This lack of transparency is alarming. Authorities should share their plans with the public immediately and undertake the operation at the highest possible standard.”

In a letter dated August 24, Greenpeace called on the Mauritian government to deal with the oil spill using methods that would create the least potential damage. It said plans to sink the front part of the carrier was the worst possible option.

“Sinking this vessel would risk biodiversity and contaminate the ocean with large quantities of metal toxins, threatening other areas as well, notably the French island of La Renunion,” said Greenpeace Africa senior climate and energy campaign manager, Happy Kambule.

“Dis Moi and Greenpeace Africa stand with the affected communities in Mauritius and expect the polluters to pay for this environmental catastrophe,” said Naraidoo.


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