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Mauritian prime minister seeks compensation for oil spill

Mauritian prime minister seeks compensation for oil spill
The oil leak from the MV Wakashio leaves streaks of black across the previously pristine turquoise waters of the island nation. Photo courtesy of the French General Staff Army/EPA-EFE

Aug. 11 (UPI) -- Mauritian Prime Minister Pravind Kumar Jugnauth told Parliament he expects compensation from a Japanese shipping company behind an oil spill off the coast of the Indian Ocean island nation.

The MV Wakashio ran aground near Pointe d'Esny on July 25 and began leaking oil into the island's previously pristine, turquoise water. An estimated 2,500 tons of oil turned the waters black, threatening protected coral reefs and lagoons.

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The spill has prompted scores of volunteers to race to the region to build sugarcane booms and clean up oil along the coast. A crack in the ship has widened, threatening to spill even more oil into the ocean.

Last week, Jugnauth said his country was in an "environmental crisis."

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On Tuesday, he told Parliament he'll "ensure that the insurance company of MV Wakashio compensates the state and any other entity or person affected by the calamity."

The ship is owned by Nagashiki Shipping, which said Sunday that it was working with Mauritian authorities to clean up the spill. Because of the crack, the 984-foot-long ship can no longer navigate under its own power, so a tug boat was being deployed to the scene.

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"We deeply apologize to everyone in Mauritius and do our best to protect the environment and minimize the effects of pollution," the company said in a statement.

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Jugnauth defended himself against criticism that the government was too slow to work to remove oil still stored on the ship.

"Mauritius has no such expertise and required resources," he said. The "government has done its level best to prevent the situation from worsening in the face of very rough seas due to bad weather conditions."

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