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Greenpeace warns Mauritius not to sink vessel that caused oil spill

Plans by Mauritius to sink part of a broken-up vessel that caused a disastrous oil spill should be shelved, environmental watchdog, Greenpeace, said on Wednesday, August 19, 2020.

Mauritius spill
The Mauritius oil spill

“Out of all available options, the Mauritian government is choosing the worst one,” said Happy Khambule of Greenpeace Africa.

“Sinking this vessel would risk biodiversity and contaminate the ocean with large quantities of heavy metal toxins, threatening other areas as well, notably the French island of La Reunion,” he added.

The Mauritian government announced its plan to sink part of the Wakashiho earlier in the week, after the Japanese-owned ship broke in two weeks after running aground off the tourist island.

The government said the front of the vessel, owned by Nagashiki Shipping, would be towed into deep waters and sunk, while the rest would be removed bit by bit.

The vessel leaked about 1,000 tons of the 4,000 tons of fuel oil it was carrying into the popular honeymoon resort’s pristine coastal waters, an area that is home to rare flora and fauna.

The company and the Mauritian government have been under increasing pressure to explain why the vessel sailed so dangerously close to the reef and why it took authorities days to arrive at the scene.

Authorities blame bad weather for the delay.

The ship’s captain, an Indian national, and officer, a Sri Lankan, were arrested on Tuesday in the capital St Louis and have been charged with endangering safe navigation. 

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