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Oil spill in Mauritius in 2020: 20 months in prison for the captain

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The court took into consideration that both defendants pleaded guilty and apologized. The sentence is 20 months in prison, said judge Ida Dookhy Rambarrun.

The Japanese bulk carrier ran aground on July 25, 2020 on a coral reef in the south-east of Mauritius, releasing more than 1,000 tonnes of fuel into its crystal-clear waters.

The Indian captain, Sunil Kumar Nandeshwar, who admitted during the hearing that he had been drinking at a party organized on the ship, was found guilty, as was his second Sri Lankan Hitihanillage Subhoda Janendra Tilakaratna, of endangering the safety of navigation by a court in Port-Louis.

The tanker at sea is tilted to one side.  Two smaller boats are nearby.

The tanker MV Wakashio ran aground on the south-eastern coast of Mauritius on July 25.

Photo: AP / Gwendoline Defente

The Panamanian-flagged MW Wakashio was en route from Singapore to Brazil, carrying 3,800 tonnes of fuel and 200 tonnes of diesel on board which quickly began to leak, but the majority of which could be pumped.

A birthday party had taken place on board and I had consumed alcohol in moderationthe captain said during his trial, adding that he had given instructions to approach Mauritian waters in order to access the telephone network, to allow crew members to contact their families.

The sea was bad, but the visibility was clear and it was safe to navigate […] At one point, the ship could not move and had touched the seabed, he added.

As I had had a few drinks, it didn’t seem useful to intervene and it didn’t occur to me that we were sailing so close.

The front part of the tanker on the water, in the foreground, and a smaller boat.

The tanker MV Wakashio, right, ran aground near the Blue Bay Marine Park, off the south-eastern coast of Mauritius on July 25, 2020.

Photo: express maurice / afp via getty / DAREN MAUREE

The two men, imprisoned in Port Louis since August 2020, apologized for the accident.

This oil spill was the worst maritime pollution in the history of the country which depends on its waters for its food security and for ecotourism, in an area which is one of the most beautiful coral reefs in the world.

The south-eastern coast of Mauritius has two classified sites: Blue Bay, known for its corals, and Pointe d’Esny, rich in mangroves, crucial ecosystems in the face of global warming.

Men in protective suits try to clean up a site after an oil spill.

Volunteers take part in a clean-up operation in Mahébourg, Mauritius, Wednesday August 12, 2020.

Photo: Associated Press / Beekash Roopun

From the first days, the inhabitants had mobilized, working tirelessly with makeshift resources, to contain the pollution.

Equipped with boots and rubber gloves, thousands of people had worked to clean the shores and corals, including making booms using rags to keep oil floating on the surface of the water at bay.

In the months following the disaster, Mauritians demonstrated by the thousands across the island, notably to denounce the government’s mismanagement of the oil spill.

Mauritius Fisheries Minister Sudheer Maudhoo said on Sunday that insurance companies covering the vessel had agreed to pay some 112,000 rupees (CAD $ 3,312) each to several hundred fishing workers to compensate for the losses caused. by pollution.

The ship had finally split in two under the effect of the swell. The ship’s bow and main hull had been towed about fifteen kilometers offshore and sunk.

The process of cutting the stern of the bulk carrier, still hanging on the reef, began in early 2021, but had to be postponed several times due to weather conditions and strong swells.

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