The Aug. 23 article “Wakashio scuttled as data reveal sudden turn toward Mauritius” was a strong magnet to me.

After reading this article, I found similar articles in the Japanese-language Asahi Shimbun. It reported that the second-in-command was steering the vessel alone, while the crew and the captain held a birthday party. In addition, they "brought the vessel close to this island, to contact their family on the Internet after a more than five-month absence.” Further detailed investigations will make the causes of this fatal error much clearer.

What’s behind this man-made disaster? I think all the crew were not qualified for the job. They should have taken part in more training sessions. Indeed, they felt lonely or depressed, leaving their family so long, but all the other workers in the same industry do not run their ships aground. They needed to maintain a strong sense of responsibility to complete their job. Also, they were supposed to follow the safety manual. The ship owner, Nagashiki Shipping, might have hired foreign workers at lower wages, under poor working conditions. Both the management and employees’ negligent behavior may be a cause of the accident.

The local ecological disaster is a serious concern. Pristine waters have been contaminated by the oil spill, so marine organisms will also be devastated. In fact, 13 dolphins adjacent to the scene were found dead. Both the coral reef and mangrove forest, where lots of sea creatures live, could be heavily damaged, stifled and ultimately destroyed.

We cannot listen to their sorrow and cries directly, but the visible natural changes tell us everything. As karmic payback, we will be quickly disappointed at losing the picturesque beach and worry about fish-based food security.

It’s no use crying over spilled oil. The bottom line is, we must remove the toxins and then restore the damaged area to a healthy state, while taking into consideration the entire ecosystem.

Mieko Okabe


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