Mauritius races to contain oil spill, protect coastline amid high winds, rough seas

Mauritius races to contain oil spill, protect coastline amid high winds, rough seas

SOURCE: CBC DATE: August 9, 2020 SNIP: Thousands of students, environmental activists and residents of Mauritius were working around the clock Sunday, trying to reduce the damage to the Indian Ocean island from an oil spill after a tanker ran aground on a coral reef. Nearly 1,000 tonnes of oil from the Japanese ship’s cargo of 4,000 tonnes has already escaped into the sea, officials said. Workers were seeking to stop more oil from leaking, but with high winds and rough seas on Sunday, there were reports of new cracks in the ship’s hull. Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth has declared a state of emergency and appealed for international help. He said the spill “represents a danger” for the country of 1.3 million people that relies heavily on tourism and has been hurt by travel restrictions caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Satellite images show a dark slick spreading in the turquoise waters near wetlands that the government called “very sensitive.” Wildlife workers and volunteers, meanwhile, ferried dozens of baby tortoises and rare plants from an island near the spill, Ile aux Aigrettes, to the mainland. “This is no longer a threat to our environment, it is a full-blown ecological disaster that has affected one of the most environmentally important parts of Mauritius, the Mahebourg Lagoon,” said Sunil Dowarkasing, an environmental consultant and former member of parliament. “The people of Mauritius, thousands and thousands, have come out to try to prevent as much damage as possible,” said Dowarkasing, who spoke from the relief efforts at Bois des Amourettes by the...
Mauritius facing environmental crisis as shipwreck leaks oil

Mauritius facing environmental crisis as shipwreck leaks oil

SOURCE: The Guardian DATE: August 6, 2020 SNIP: The Indian Ocean island of Mauritius is facing an environmental crisis after oil began leaking from a bulk carrier that ran aground in July and started to break up in rough seas. “We are in an environmental crisis situation,” said the environment minister, Kavy Ramano, while the fishing minister, Sudheer Maudhoo, said: “This is the first time that we are faced with a catastrophe of this kind and we are insufficiently equipped to handle this problem.” The ministers said all attempts to stabilise the ship had failed because of rough seas and efforts to pump out the oil had also failed. Ecologists fear the ship could break up, which would cause an even greater leak and inflict potentially catastrophic damage on the island’s coastline. “The ministry has been informed … that there is a breach in the vessel MV Wakashio and there is a leakage of oil,” said an environment ministry statement. “The public in general, including boat operators and fishers, are requested not to venture on the beach and in the lagoons of Blue Bay, Pointe d’Esny and Mahebourg.” The carrier, belonging to a Japanese company but Panamanian-flagged, ran aground on 25 July and its crew was evacuated safely. Images from social media showed a slick of black oil spreading out from the stricken carrier. The ship had no payload at the time but was carrying 200 tonnes of diesel and 3,800 tonnes of bunker fuel, according to the local press. The grounding happened at Pointe d’Esny, which is listed under the Ramsar convention on wetlands of international importance and...
Oil tanker off Yemen risks spilling four times as much oil as 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster

Oil tanker off Yemen risks spilling four times as much oil as 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster

SOURCE: ABC News (Australia) and CNN DATE: July 17, 2020 SNIP: The United Nations has warned there could be a disastrous oil spill four times the size of the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster near Alaska if action is not taken to deal with a deteriorating oil tanker stranded off the coast of war-torn Yemen. The Safer tanker is carrying 1.1 million barrels of crude oil and has been stranded off Yemen’s Red Sea oil terminal of Ras Issa for more than five years. On May 27, water began leaking into the engine room, threatening to destabilise it, UN aid chief Mark Lowcock told a Security Council meeting. While divers from the Safer Corporation were able to fix the leak, Mr Lowcock — who has mentioned the plight of the tanker during monthly council briefings on Yemen for more than a year — warned that “it is impossible to say how long it might hold.” In a statement after the briefing, the 15-member Security Council “expressed deep alarm at the growing risk that the Safer oil tanker could rupture or explode, causing an environmental, economic, and humanitarian catastrophe for Yemen and its neighbours.” “Time is running out for us to act in a coordinated manner to prevent a looming environmental, economic and humanitarian catastrophe,” Inger Andersen told the UN Security Council on Wednesday. Seawater flooded the aging tanker’s engine room in late May and is threatening to destabilize the ship, according to the UN. Andersen said that “no effort should be spared” to conduct a “a technical assessment and initial light repairs” on the vessel. But she added that in...
Aerial photos show Trans Mountain oil spill threatens local aquifer

Aerial photos show Trans Mountain oil spill threatens local aquifer

SOURCE: Wilderness Committee DATE: June 15, 2020 SNIP: Wilderness Committee drone photos taken late Sunday afternoon show the extent of an oil spill this weekend from the Trans Mountain pipeline, despite the company’s attempts to minimize the situation. “We’re talking about a major oil spill in a waterlogged field that sits above the Sumas aquifer,” said Climate Campaigner Peter McCartney. “This is a disaster.” Trans Mountain says its pipeline spilt 150,000 to 190,000 litres of crude oil on Saturday morning and images show the spill was not cleaned up by the time the company planned on restarting the flow of oil. It rained throughout the weekend. This is only the latest of around 90 major spills from the 67-year old pipeline and highlights the extreme risks to local ecosystems posed by the federal government’s planned expansion of the project. “We tend to think of spills as single events but over the lifetime of a pipeline, they have an enormous impact on local ecosystems,” said McCartney. “That’s why we’re so resolute in opposing a brand new line — triple the oil means triple the consequences.” Trans Mountain started construction of its new line in British Columbia just two weeks ago in the Kamloops area. It will have to cross over 1,000 streams and rivers in the province and at least 28 aquifers. A majority of affected First Nations have never given consent for the pipeline to cross their territories, including the Sumas First Nation whose lands and waters will suffer from this weekend’s...
Russian Oil Spill Reaches Pristine Arctic Lake

Russian Oil Spill Reaches Pristine Arctic Lake

SOURCE: Yale e360 DATE: June 9, 2020 SNIP: Diesel fuel from a 21,000-ton oil spill in the Russian Arctic has reached a freshwater lake that serves as a gateway into the Arctic Ocean, Russian officials announced. The spill, one of the largest in Russian history, has contaminated several rivers and tributaries so far, triggering a major clean-up effort and prompting Russian President Vladimir Putin to declare a state of emergency. The spill, which occurred near the city of Norilsk on May 29, originated from a fuel reservoir at a power plant owned by the metals company Norilsk Nickel, the world’s largest producer of nickel and palladium. The company said the incident happened as a result of thawing permafrost, which weakened the foundations for the storage tank. But several environmental groups, including the World Wildlife Fund and Greenpeace Russia, said that while global warming likely played a role, the company also has a track record for neglecting its aging infrastructure, The Guardian reported. Governments officials said the oil has now spread as far as Lake Pyasino, located 12 miles north of Norilsk, Reuters reported. The 45-mile-long lake feeds into the Pyasina River, which flows into the Kara Sea in the Arctic Ocean. ED NOTE: The government of Norilsk has known about the degradation of infrastructure and the potential for problems for decades and did not do anything to stop the potential for this spill. I also learned from the linked paper that Norilsk was founded as a gulag work camp: a horror in the Arctic from day...