The Japanese owners of the ship responsible for the massive oil spill on the coastline of Mauritius have promised to their “utmost to collect the leaked oil and to minimise the impact of the environmental pollution”.
Management at Nagashiki Shipping, which owns the Panamanian-registered MV Wakashio floundering on a reef in a protected and previously unspoilt section of coast, made the commitment in a statement released on Thursday.
‘Deeply conscious of our responsibility’, say owners
“We are deeply conscious of our responsibility as a party directly involved in the case,” said Kiyoaki Nagashiki, President of the company.
“Regarding compensation, we plan to deal with the issue sincerely based on applicable laws.”
The latest statement by Nagashiki Shipping, which is headquartered in the city of Okayama, follows a statement released last Saturday in which it “deeply apologised” to the people of Mauritius for “causing them so much trouble”.
Bulk carrier ran aground in pristine area on 25 July
The MV Wakashio bulk carrier ran aground on 25 July, but it was only on 6 August that it began to leak oil into the ocean near the Ile aux Aigrettes nature reserve and Blue Bay Marine Park.
It is an area on the flight path into and out of the international airport and will thus be known to many South African travellers.
It is also close to popular holiday beaches at Pointe d’Esny near the town of Mahebourg on the east side of the island.
Several nations and organisations have responded
Mauritius declared a state of environmental emergency on 7 August and the Prime Minister, Pravind Jugnauth, issued a call for international assistance, saying that Mauritius lacked the resources to deal with a disaster on this scale.
Nations such as France and Japan, as well as the International Maritime Organization, United Nations Environment Programme and others have responded.
Local Mauritians have also responded in their thousands by working day and night with whatever tools and equipment they can find to curtail the spread of the oil slick and render assistance to the birds and marine life affected by the spill.
Local Mauritians are angry over perceived inaction
The New York Times reports that their efforts are representative of the grass-roots initiatives undertaken by Mauritians amid mounting anger and frustration that officials did not act soon enough to address the spill.
“In interviews, many Mauritians blamed the authorities as being ill-prepared for such a catastrophe, although Mauritius has been the site of at least three shipwrecks in the past decade,” the Times said.
“In the days that followed the grounding of the Wakashio, the authorities deployed only a few hundred meters of booms, environmental experts said, which was not enough to contain the spill.”
No more oil is left to pump from the ship’s tanks
According to the Mauritius Explored Facebook page, there is now no oil left to pump from the ship, as it has either leaked out or been removed.
“On the ground, professional teams have arrived for help and assessing the best way forward,” it said.
“It’s safe to say we avoided the worst and actions have been fast to contain the worst-case scenario.”