Le Bouchon: MV Benita Released From The Reefs

The Liberian bulk carrier MV Benita has been released from the reef-cap  1:00 PM on Saturday, July 23.

After pumping and transfering 174 tons of fuel to the Virgin Oil Ltd. refinery the salvage operation began at 6:00 AM led by Swire Salvage Emergency Response.

The MV Benita ran aground on the reefs of Le Bouchon, Mahébourg on the night of June 16 to 17. With 23 people on board, the Liberian bulk carrier was heading to Durban in South Africa when an incident broke out between two sailors, one of whom was seriously injured.

The suspect Omar Palmes Taton, a Filipino of 38 was trapped in the engine room. He then cut all vessel system leaving it adrift.

This is where the MV Benita measuring 181 meters long and 30 meters wide was wrecked on the reefs in Le Bouchon. At that time, it contained 145 tons of fuel oil and 30 tons of diesel.

Since the sinking of MV Benita, the inhabitants of Le Bouchon repeatedly found the presence of a blackish liquid similar heavy oil in the lagoon; the last time being Thursday, July 21.

Fishermen and officers of the Ministry of Environment, supervised by the Greek experts of the company Five Oceans Salvage S.A., have been working hard since Friday afternoon July 22 to clean the lagoon.

The spill was attributed to the exercise of pressurization of the wedges: heavy oil residues were well distributed in the lagoon. Actions were taken by the National Coast Guard (NCG) to limit the damage and antipollution bridges were installed.

The inhabitants of Le Bouchon were disappointed. “Its sont convaincus que le lagon est fini. Le lagon du Bouchon est mort. Finis les poissons frais et autres crustacés qu’on allait pêcher. Le pire c’est que les autorités concernées n’ont pas daigné se déplacer pour constater l’ampleur des dégâts sur l’écosystème,” growls Jean-Robert Françoise.

The Ministry of Local Government, through a statement on Friday, July 22, emphasized that an ecological monitoring on the water quality and other environmental damage is insured by the authorities in the event of compensation and the rehabilitation of the environment.