Mitsui OSK Lines must be held responsible for disastrous oil spill in Mauritius

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On July 25th, the MV Wakashio was ran aground in Mauritius. The vessel contains approximately 3,800 tonnes of VLSFO (very low sulphur fuel oil) and 200 tonnes of diesel onboard. The Mauritian government has declared a ‘state of environmental emergency’. The hull is now at risk of rupturing, accelerating the oil spillage. Local residents are scrambling to contain the spill. They are using straws stuffed in fabric sacks as makeshift absorbant barriers, and tubes made from hair and stockings.

Mauritian economy is highly dependent on tourism, where it recorded a total revenue of 63 billion Rupees (USD 1.6 billion) last year. The central bank announced a loss of 12 billion Rupees due to a fall in tourism from COVID and the country still remains close to international air travel.

The region where the oil spill is happening is famous for its marine flora and fauna and aquatic activities like snorkelling and kite surfing. But with the smell and swimming ban, even domestic tourism is at a standstill, threatening the livelihoods of thousands of residents.

Biodiversity, public health and livelihoods are at risk. Mauritius is unable to bear the brunt of the costs associated with the clean-up, health hazards from exposure to harsh chemicals in the oil, and loss of income.

The MV Wakashio is owned by Nagashiki Shipping and operated by Mitsui OSK Lines Ltd. Mitsui has issued an apology and has dispatched a team of 6 experts to help with the emergency response. 

This is not the first incident involving Mitsui OSK Lines. The company operated a crude tanker oil that was damaged in 2006. An estimated 4,500 tonnes of crude oil leaked from the vessel into the Indian Ocean. The company has been involved in other smaller incidents, including the sinking of an entire cargo ship in 2006.

While there has been an outpour of public support, the Japanese company needs to be kept accountable. Mitsui OSK Lines has a revenue of 1.12 trillion (USD 10.5 billion) in Japanese Yen. The company has to take responsibility and has the resources to ensure that the response is swift and effective in mitigating human cost and damage to local biodiversity.

WE DEMAND MITSUI OSK LINES:

1.       Publicly declare that it will fund the entire emergency response and provide on-ground assistance

2.       Fully fund environmental conservation efforts to monitor and preserve regional marine fauna and flora affected by the spill

3.       Fully fund and support governmental programs to track the safety of the waters and fisheries from chemical and metal contamination

4.       Pay compensation to all residents affected by the oil spill in any way: loss of income, health problems and any other incident related to the spill

5.       Fully fund the removal of the MV Wakashio from Mauritian territories and ensure proper disposal of the vessel

Forward the petition to Junichiro Ikeda, CEO Mitsui OSK Lines

c/o Mitsui OSK Lines Ltd

Email: ladmo@mail.mol.co.jp 

Address: Shosen Mitsui Building 2-1-1, Toranomon, Minato-Ku 105-8688, Japan

Phone: +81 335877026; +81 335876224

Initial Signatory: Tamsin Lacourte, a Mauritian whose heart is breaking to see what my people are enduring while the company gets off with a simple apology. I want to see big corporations stand up and take responsibility for the mess they cause. It’s time for accountability to become the norm.