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IMO continues to mitigate impact of Wakashio oil spill, though insurance is limited

19 Aug 2020

The ​IMO on Monday (17 September) said it continues to support international efforts to respond to the oil spill in Mauritius, following the break up of the MV Wakashio

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.

The oil spill response expert has been on the scene since Wednesday, 12 August, 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, it said. 

Reports indicate that most of the oil on board the MV Wakashio had been removed before the vessel broke in two sections on Saturday, 15 August.

The IMO noted that approximately more than 3,000 tonnes 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, it added.

The affected area is located in a very sensitive zone that includes the Blue Bay Marine Park, Ile aux Aigrettes, and the Ramsar sites. 

“I would like to commend all those involved in the international efforts to support the Government of Mauritius and to mitigate the impact of the oil spill from the MV Wakashio,” said Kitack Lim, IMO Secretary-General. 

“I look forward to a full investigation into the incident so that the results and findings can be brought to IMO and we can act on any recommendations.”

IMO said it 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 mobilising environmental and oil spill experts. 

The company SMIT Salvage has been appointed by the vessel owner to oversee the salvage operations.

The IMO said its 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, it explained. 

Photo credit: International Maritime Organisation
Published: 19 August, 2020

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