Update: Mauritians attempt to clean oil spill with hair, after environmental emergency declaration

People in Mauritius cleaning up oil spill with hair

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - People from the island of Mauritius made floating booms of human hair and leaves on Aug. 10 to mop up oil leaking from a grounded Japanese ship onto their pristine Indian Ocean beaches.

Romina Tello, 30-year-old founder of eco-tourism agency Mauritius Conscious, spent the weekend helping clean black sludge from mangrove swamps. She said Mauritians were making booms to float on the sea out of sugar cane leaves, plastic bottles and hair that people were voluntarily cutting off.

“Hair absorbs oil but not water,” Tello explained. “There’s been a big campaign around the island to get the hair.”

On August 8, 2020 Mauritius Prime Minister, Pravind Jugnauth, declared a “state of environmental emergency” for the island nation when a bulk carrier ship began spilling oil after running on shallow waters off its southeastern coast.

Island of Mauritius declares "state of environmental emergency"

Satellite images released on Friday showed thick oil slick appear all around the area where the ship, MV Wakashio, is currently lying.

According to sources, the carrier is believed to have over 4000 tons of fuel aboard. At least 1,000 tons are estimated to have leaked, with about 500 salvaged- the rest remains inside the sunken ship.

The Island of Mauritius is a popular tourist destination well known for its white sands, warm waters, unique wildlife and coral reef ecosystems.

Former colonial ruler, France, has sent aid in what environmental group Greenpeace said could be a major ecological crisis.

(Mauritius is a small island nation east of Madagascar off the southeastern coast of the African continent.)

The Prime Minister called a "state of environmental emergency" for the island nation.
The Prime Minister called a "state of environmental emergency" for the island nation. (Source: KOLD)

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