Japan continues its assistance to Mauritius in cleaning the consequences of spilling oil. Today, the second team of Japanese experts arrives in the island to help absorb more than 1,000 tonnes of oil that leaked from a Japanese-owned bulk carrier into pristine waters off the coast of Mauritius.
The Mauritian government has vowed to seek compensation from the ship’s Japanese owner and insurer for “all losses and damages” related to the oil spill disaster, IBTimes says. Over two weeks, both the Mauritian and Japanese governments have come under fire for not doing more immediately to prevent a large-scale spill.
Japan has already sent one team of six experts, including a coastguard expert and diplomats, to aid in absorbing more than 1,000 tonnes of oil. The new team of seven experts is to leave Japan on Wednesday and will carry materials such as a sorbent to help clean up the oil.
According to Japan’s embassy in Mauritius, the oil spill has caused serious damage over the southeast coastal environment of Mauritius and will have an inevitable impact on the country’s tourism industry as well.
“Japan has decided to dispatch the team out of comprehensive and holistic consideration of all circumstances, including the request of urgent assistance from the government of the Republic of Mauritius and the friendly relationship between the two countries,” the statement said.
As Greenpeace said, the spill the “worst ecological disaster” in the Mauritian history, threatening wetlands that boast rare mangrove forests and scores of fish and coral species.
The Japanese ship split in half over the weekend
Japanese firm Nagashiki, the ship’s owner, has pledged to “sincerely” respond to requests for compensation over damage to the marine environment.
The MV Wakashio ship split in half over the weekend, and a portion remains stranded on the reef. The ship ran aground on a coral reef on July 25 and began oozing oil more than a week later.
At a meeting Monday, the national crisis committee formed in response to the spill determined that it was “still risky to remove the remaining small amount of residual oil in the engine room” of that portion of the ship, according to a statement issued Monday night.
“Oil-pumping operations should resume as soon as the weather permits,” the statement said.
Thousands of Mauritians volunteered day and night to clean the powder-blue waters that have long attracted honeymooners and tourists before the clean-up operation was fully handed over to experts.
India, Japan and France have immediately sent their experts to Mauritius to cope with the dangerous situation. A 10-member team from India’s coastguard arrived in Mauritius on Sunday with 28 tonnes of equipment including booms, barges and skimmers.
France had already sent military planes, ships and equipment to help contain the oil spill, which also threatens the French island of La Reunion southwest of Mauritius.