NEWS

Experts To Inspect, Investigate Alleged Oil Spill: Reddy

Mr Reddy said a team would be sent to inspect the site however archival research needed to be carried out as the Vuda coral restoration area was a pioneer site for the Mountains to Oceans Programme.
17 Dec 2021 12:56
Experts To Inspect, Investigate Alleged Oil Spill: Reddy
The Vuda Coral Restoration site which is near the Vuda Depot. Photo: Salote Qalubau

A team from the Ministry of Agriculture, Waterways and Environment and experts will be inspecting the Vuda coral restoration site after Viseisei villagers raised their concerns to Minister Mahendra Reddy alleging of an oil spill from the Vuda depot.

Mr Reddy visited the Vuda coral restoration site on Wednesday after villagers informed Mr Reddy during his last visit in November that an oil leakage supposedly coming from the Vuda Depot was seeping into the Viseisei Village causing the degradation of the village reefs.

“It’s an eye-opener, we have seen some loss of natural habitat, the mangroves and we have heard the community, that they have lost some of their food sources like crabs and they’re attributing it to oil discharge from the Depot here, but we need to do a thorough study,” Mr Reddy said.

Mr Reddy said a team would be sent to inspect the site however archival research needed to be carried out as the Vuda coral restoration area was a pioneer site for the Mountains to Oceans Programme.

He said a team of experts would investigate the current situation and see if there is really a loss of biodiversity at the site.

“We don’t want to make any allegations at the moment. I think we need to get experts here,” he said.

 

Vuda Resource Chair

Vuda Resource Committee Chair Adi Makelesi Tavaiqia said the first documented oil spillage was in 1993 when villagers asked the Lautoka Rural Authority to heed their concerns.

“They took two oil companies Mobil and Shell, now Total to court and in 1996 the judgement came out, unfortunately for us the judgement favoured the oil companies,” she said

She said the other documented oil spillages were in 2002 and 2014.

“According to our records one was in May, and the second one in June (2002), that was a huge one, that was around 170,000 litres of oil spilt from one of the tankers,” she claimed.

She further said that in November 2014, villagers of Viseisei woke up to black carbon substances on the beach.

“When we saw the whole beach was covered with black sand, we sent some samples to Doctor Antoine at the University of the South Pacific (USP) and with his research, he concluded that it could be one of the tankers, the crew must have cleaned their chimneys at night while they were anchored at Vuda Point,” she said.

She said the Vuda Resource Owners Committee wanted to determine whether these activities were done within the fringing reefs.

Feedbacksalote.qalubau@fijisun.com.fj

 

 



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