Image Credit: Happy Mag

The oil industry has provided trillions of gallons of accessible fuel and other petroleum products since the first commercial oil well was drilled in 1859. Since that first oil well began pumping, thousands of oil spills have emerged on land and at sea. Oil holes, channels, and vessels have all been streams of crucial accidental leaks. Newly, a Japanese-owned ship MV Wakashio split into two parts near Blue Bay Marine Park, Mauritius, on Sunday, August 16.

The ship was carrying about 3,800 tons of low Sulphur fuel oil and 200 tons of diesel oil, and one of the ship's three oil tanks had already leaked into the ocean and crews were struggling to wipe out the oil from the other tanks before the ship broke up, the CNN reported. “At around 4.30 pm (on Saturday), a major detachment of the vessel's forward section was observed”, the National Crisis Committee of Mauritius said in a statement. Earlier this week, the ship operator, Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, said about 1,180 metric tons of oil had leaked from the vessel's fuel tank, with about 460 tons manually recovered from the sea and coast. A large clean-up operation including thousands of regional volunteers had been underway. But a crack inside the hull of the ship widened earlier this week, the ship's operator Mitsui told CNN.

Image Credit: CBS News

The spill is close to marine ecosystems. Nearby are a number of popular tourist beaches and mangrove plantations. According to BBC, this has taken place near two environmentally protected marine ecosystems and the Blue Bay Marine Park reserve, which is a wetland of international importance. So, it's the location rather than the size of the spill which is causing the greatest concern about its potentially severe environmental clash. Mauritius is a biodiversity hotspot with a high quantity of plants and animals distinct to the region. The Mauritian marine habitat is home to 1,700 species containing around 800 types of fish, 17 kinds of marine mammals and two species of turtles, according to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity. Coral reefs, seagrasses and mangroves make Mauritian waters incredibly prosperous in biodiversity.

To support Mauritius' constant oil spill containment and release strategies, the Indian High Commission in Mauritius stayed in continual touch with the Mauritian authorities since the beginning. As a timely step, Indian Oil Mauritius Limited (IOML) was expected to deliver all practical relief to the Government of Mauritius. India has dispatched over 30 tonnes of specialized equipment and material on board with Indian Aircraft Force (IAF), the Economic Times reported. In addition, the IAF aircraft is also bringing 10,000 potential oil absorbent pads that have been specially obtained and supplied. The types of equipment for the clean-up are being provided by Indian Coast Guard which is the designated national authority for oil spill response in Indian waters. A 10-member Technical Response Team, consisting of Indian Coast Guard crew specially instructed for handling with oil spill containment measures, has also been deployed to Mauritius to pull crucial technical and functional service at the scene.

Image Credit: Reuters

The prominent role of India in Mauritius as the significant supporter and a provider of humanitarian aid and disaster relief in the Indian Ocean region, there has been a huge expectation in Mauritius, particularly from India. The amount of oil spilt from the Japanese-owned ship is moderately low compared to the big oil spills the world has seen in the past, but the damage it will do is going to be huge and long-lasting. There’s no getting around it, oil spills are high-priced, harmful and potentially toxic to offshore labourers and the marine environment.