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Mauritius Oil Spill: Thousands of environmental activists are working around the clock

MauritiusTens of thousands of volunteers in Mauritius are now racing against time to clear and contain a serious oil spill caused by a Japanese freighter that ran aground offshore in late July.

Mauritian Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth said on Monday that so far the oil had stopped spilling from the freighter MV Wakashio, but a gloomy prospect remains ahead as there is still about 1,959 tons of oil inside. As the freighter body is now scattered with cracks, the ship might break into two any time. To prepare for the worst, Jugnauth has ordered pumping out the remaining oil, declared a state of environmental emergency and turned to France for help.
While the French military arrived on Monday evening with professional oil-containing equipment, tens of thousands of local volunteers have already begun their fight along the shore. Adrien Duval, head of the Environmental Commission of Mauritian Social Democrat Party, is among the many who assembled volunteers to mitigate the disastrous impact on the local environment.

Duval told China Central Television (CCTV) reporter that it has been hard for him to swallow the fact that the picturesque beach side had turned into such a sticky, stinky mess. "It is unimaginable, the foul smell, the toxic smell that comes out from this oil and the high density of the oil makes it very difficult to handle. It gets stuck on the rocks, on the plants and the mangroves," said Duval.
"And we have a big plantation of mangroves, a big forest of mangroves all around the east coast, and these mangroves are nurseries and a very important part of the ecosystem. They are nurseries for the fish population and the different species that thrive within these areas. These mangroves now have been completely contaminated," he said.

So far, volunteers have cleared about 395 tons of oil and 90 tons of oil stain in the past five days, but Duval said for industries that rely largely on the east coast, the harm has already been done. "We rely hugely on the east coast for our tourism industry, many hotels are founded there. Most of our beaches and islands are also on the east coast and all of these have now been contaminated. So,it looks like we're going to have a very, very big impact on our tourism industry because of this spillage," said Duval.
Duval added that the east coast is also an important source for fish production, which has also been threatened by the oil spill. "So it is a tragic incident and it is something that we have never experienced before. It is something that has now critically affected both our tourism economy and our food security, and it is very, very critical and important that we get rid of this oil, or else we will face a lot of troubles," said Duval.

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