Oil spill incident: Minister Ramano reassures that the situation is under control

Oil spill incident: Minister Ramano reassures that the situation is under control
Oil spill incident: Minister Ramano reassures that the situation is under control

Africa-Press – Mauritius. Concerning the oil spill incident involving around 1,500 litres of heavy fuel oil (HFO), which occurred at Riche Terre on 18 January 2024, due to the leakage from the HFO line that feeds the boiler of Marine Biotechnology Products Ltd (MBPL), to date, cleaning has been completed and the situation is under control.
The Minister of Environment, Solid Waste Management and Climate Change, Mr Kavydass Ramano, made this statement, today, during a press conference held at the seat of his Ministry in Port Louis.

“Some 35.5 cubic metres of oil and water have been pumped, while 9.18 tons of contaminated solid waste and 19.5 tons of non-contaminated solid waste have also been collected,” he indicated.

Minister Ramano highlighted that, on 18 January 2024 itself, the National Parks and Conservation Service; the Mauritius Ports Authority (MPA); the Ministry of Blue Economy, Marine Resources, Fisheries and Shipping; the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Centre; the Special Mobile Force (SMF); the National Coast Guard (NCG), and the Solid Waste Management Division of his Ministry, amongst others, were made aware of the incident so as to be able to take quick and appropriate actions.

“The Authorities,” he stated, “observed that HFO reached Pont Bruniquel but did not affect the Rivulet Terre Rouge Estuary Bird Sanctuary.
The Environment Minister pointed out that a correspondence was sent to MBPL thereby requesting the Company to inform the Authorities of measures implemented so as to mitigate the oil spill and to submit an action plan regarding the disposal of waste as well as the rehabilitation of the environment. Furthermore, Minister Ramano dwelt on some measures taken on the day of the incident.

They included: repair works by MBPL so as to stop the oil spill and where 30 metres of sorbent booms were installed before starting pumping the HFO from the river; the deployment of nine metres of sorbent booms and 30 metres of poly boom by the NCG and the SMF to prevent oil from reaching the Rivulet Terre Rouge Estuary Bird Sanctuary; the deployment of 15 metres of booms by the MPA to prevent the HFO from reaching the port; the analysis of water from the river and the sea by the National Environment Laboratory; and the proper disposal of contaminated sorbent pads.

“Despite all measures undertaken,” deplored the Minister, “some HFO was detected in the Rivulet Terre Rouge Estuary Bird Sanctuary on 19 January 2024 and the National Oil Spill Contingency Plan was activated.

” “As such, MBPL enhanced the pumping of HFO and prioritised the cleaning of the Rivulet Terre Rouge Estuary Bird Sanctuary, in collaboration with the Authorities, while contractors deployed some 240 metres of sorbent booms and 395 metres of fence booms in seven strategic places,” he added.

As far as the analysis of the concentration of oil and grease in water is concerned, Minister Ramano underscored that no trace of same was detected on any affected site from 22 to 31 January 2024.

“The National Environment Laboratory also analysed the quality of air in three residential zones near Terre Rouge Rivulet and no toxic gas was detected,” he stressed.

According to him, neither oil nor grease was detected in sediment near the Rivulet Terre Rouge Estuary Bird Sanctuary on 31 January 2024, while results were being awaited for tests carried out yesterday.

Before concluding, he underlined that his Ministry was collaborating with the Mauritius Police Force as far as enquiry to determine the exact cause of the incident was concerned.

He also cautioned about legal action that might be undertaken against MBPL under the provisions of the Environment Protection Act and the Forests and Reserves Act.

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