Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

A Japanese ship that ran aground on a coral reef off Mauritius may have changed course to get a mobile data signal for a birthday celebration on board. imo.un / Wikimedia Commons / CC by 2.0

A Japanese ship that wrecked off the coast of Mauritius in July and sparked one of the worst environmental disasters in the country's history may have run aground because of birthday celebrations on board at the time.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

The BP oil refinery in Whiting, Indiana across the street from Marktown Park on Jan. 8, 2019. Scott Olson / Getty Images
We may have already passed peak demand for oil.
Read More Show Less
OPEC remains only a pale shadow of its past glory. Pxfuel

By Ashutosh Pandey

In 1973, a handful of oil-rich countries, led by Saudi Arabia, Iran and Iraq, brought the mighty U.S. economy to its knees by slapping an oil embargo on Washington and its allies. The suspension of oil shipments from the Middle East to the U.S. and steep production cuts in retaliation for the Americans' support of Israel during the Yom Kippur War wreaked havoc on the U.S. economy, leading to fuel shortages and causing oil prices to go through the roof.

Read More Show Less

Support Ecowatch

An LNG processing plant is seen in Cameron, Louisiana on August 26, 2020. Andrew Caballero-Reynolds / AFP / Getty Images

The full extent of the damage wrought by the storm formerly known as Hurricane Laura will only continue to grow as the weakened storm continues inland and pollution from petrochemical plants and other industrial sites is discovered.

Read More Show Less

Trending

A fire burns at the ExxonMobil Olefins Plant in Baytown, Texas on July 31, 2019. michelmond / iStock Editorial / Getty Images Plus

A Norwegian hedge fund worth more than $90 billion has become the first major financial institution to divest from companies that lobby against action on the climate crisis, The Guardian reported Monday.

Read More Show Less
Fire and smoke at a plastics plant in Grand Prairie, Texas, on Aug. 19, 2020. The massive fire that broke out overnight is likely to burn for days, officials said. Xinhua / Dan Tian via Getty Images

A plastics plant near Dallas,Texas caught fire midnight Wednesday, sending a column of toxic smoke billowing over North Texas.

Read More Show Less
The captain of the vessel behind a devastating Mauritius oil spill left court after being charged Tuesday. RISHI ETWAROO / L'Express Maurice / AFP via Getty Images

The captain of the ship that ran aground off Mauritius and caused an environmental crisis when oil began leaking close to the island nation's unique marine ecosystems was arrested, both police and the captain's lawyer said on Tuesday.

Read More Show Less
An example of abandoned oil pumps and well. Martina Birnbaum / Getty Images

By Ray Levy-Uyeda

A farmer for most of his life, Sam Stewart bought farmland in Montana about 35 years ago. Since then, he's planted and harvested his wheat and other crops around 16 open oil wells on this land, which he estimates were dug in the 1920s.

Read More Show Less

Trending

The MV Wakashio is seen on August 15, 2020 after the ship's mid-section broke in two, three weeks after running aground off the coast of southeast Mauritius. Stringer / AFP / Getty Images

The Japanese cargo ship that hit a coral reef near Mauritius and spilled thousands of metric tons of fuel into the island nation's turquoise waters split in two over the weekend, The Guardian reported.

Read More Show Less
An aerial view taken on August 8, 2020 shows a large patch of leaked oil from the MV Wakashio off the coast of Mauritius. STRINGER / AFP / Getty Images

The tiny island nation of Mauritius, known for its turquoise waters, vibrant corals and diverse ecosystem, is in the midst of an environmental catastrophe after a Japanese cargo ship struck a reef off the country's coast two weeks ago. That ship, which is still intact, has since leaked more than 1,000 metric tons of oil into the Indian Ocean. Now, a greater threat looms, as a growing crack in the ship's hull might cause the ship to split in two and release the rest of the ship's oil into the water, NPR reported.

On Friday, Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth declared a state of environmental emergency.

France has sent a military aircraft carrying pollution control equipment from the nearby island of Reunion to help mitigate the disaster. Additionally, Japan has sent a six-member team to assist as well, the BBC reported.

The teams are working to pump out the remaining oil from the ship, which was believed to be carrying 4,000 metric tons of fuel.

"We are expecting the worst," Mauritian Wildlife Foundation manager Jean Hugues Gardenne said on Monday, The Weather Channel reported. "The ship is showing really big, big cracks. We believe it will break into two at any time, at the maximum within two days. So much oil remains in the ship, so the disaster could become much worse. It's important to remove as much oil as possible. Helicopters are taking out the fuel little by little, ton by ton."

Sunil Dowarkasing, a former strategist for Greenpeace International and former member of parliament in Mauritius, told CNN that the ship contains three oil tanks. The one that ruptured has stopped leaking oil, giving disaster crews time to use a tanker and salvage teams to remove oil from the other two tanks before the ship splits.

By the end of Tuesday, the crew had removed over 1,000 metric tons of oil from the ship, NPR reported, leaving about 1,800 metric tons of oil and diesel, according to the company that owns the ship. So far the frantic efforts are paying off. Earlier today, a local police chief told BBC that there were still 700 metric tons aboard the ship.

The oil spill has already killed marine animals and turned the turquoise water black. It's also threatening the long-term viability of the country's coral reefs, lagoons and shoreline, NBC News reported.

"We are starting to see dead fish. We are starting to see animals like crabs covered in oil, we are starting to see seabirds covered in oil, including some which could not be rescued," said Vikash Tatayah, conservation director at Mauritius Wildlife Foundation, according to The Weather Channel.

While the Mauritian authorities have asked residents to leave the clean-up to officials, locals have organized to help.

"People have realized that they need to take things into their hands. We are here to protect our fauna and flora," environmental activist Ashok Subron said in an AFP story.

Reuters reported that sugar cane leaves, plastic bottles and human hair donated by locals are being sewn into makeshift booms.

Human hair absorbs oil, but not water, so scientists have long suggested it as a material to contain oil spills, Gizmodo reported. Mauritians are currently collecting as much human hair as possible to contribute to the booms, which consist of tubes and nets that float on the water to trap the oil.

Trending

A "vessel of opportunity" skims oil spilled after the Deepwater Horizon well blowout in the Gulf of Mexico in April 2010. NOAA / Flickr / CC by 2.0

By Loveday Wright and Stuart Braun

After a Japanese-owned oil tanker struck a reef off Mauritius on July 25, a prolonged period of inaction is threatening to become an ecological disaster.

Read More Show Less
Bystanders watch the MV Wakashio bulk carrier from which oil is leaking near Blue Bay Marine Park in southeast Mauritius, on August 6, 2020. Photo by Dev Ramkhelawon / L'Express Maurice / AFP / Getty Images

The Indian Ocean island of Mauritius, renowned for its coral reefs, is facing an unprecedented ecological catastrophe after a tanker ran aground offshore and began leaking oil.

Read More Show Less
The 2006 oil spill was the largest incident in Philippine history and damaged 1,600 acres of mangrove forests. Shubert Ciencia / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

By Jun N. Aguirre

An oil spill on July 3 threatens a mangrove forest on the Philippine island of Guimaras, an area only just recovering from the country's largest spill in 2006.

Read More Show Less