IMO helping to mitigate the impacts of MV Wakashio oil spill in Mauritius

IMO and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA) have jointly deployed an expert, who is advising the Government of Mauritius on the mitigation of the impacts on the environment and coastal communities.  IMO continues to support international efforts to respond to the oil spill in Mauritius, following the breakup of the MV Wakashio.

The oil spill response expert has been on the scene since 12 Aug, providing technical advice, taking part in a number of field visits and operational meetings, and liaising with the various stakeholders involved in the response efforts. 

Reports indicate that most of the oil on board the MV Wakashio had been removed before the vessel broke in two sections on 15 Aug. It is estimated that more than 3,000 tons of fuel have been extracted, but some residue and other oil remain in the stern section.

The focus of operations on scene is now moving towards salvage and removal of the ship, as well as continued recovery of floating oil and beach clean-up. The affected area is located in a very sensitive zone that includes the Blue Bay Marine Park, Ile aux Aigrettes, and the Ramsar sites. 

IMO continues to collaborate with other UN entities, including OCHA, UNDP and UNOSAT, as well as other stakeholders involved in the response effort. A number of countries, including France and Japan, are also assisting Mauritius, which has activated its national oil spill contingency plan.

Alongside IMO and OCHA, the ship owner and International Tanker Owners Pollution Federation (ITOPF) are also mobilizing environmental and oil spill experts. The company SMIT Salvage has been appointed by the vessel owner to oversee the salvage operations.

The IMO’s liability and compensation regime is partly in play for this incident. The Wakashio has compulsory insurance under the 2001 Bunkers Convention concerning all material damage and pollution claims up to the applicable limits in accordance with relevant instruments (including LLMC) and national legislation in force. 

Given that the ship involved is a bulk carrier, other international conventions specific to pollution damage caused by oil tankers (such as the IOPC Fund regime) do not apply in this case. 

MV Wakashio ran aground on 25 July off Pointe d’Esny natural area, on the south-eastern coast of Mauritius and started leaking oil following severe weather conditions. An estimated 3,894 tons of low-sulphur fuel oil, 207 tons of diesel and 90 tons of lubricant oil were on board.

Image credit: IMO

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