Following more than twenty days since bauxite bulk carrier MV Solomon Trader ran aground in Rennell Island, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) confirms that oiling around the ship has now moved and begun to disperse across the surrounding sea and shoreline, contaminating the ecologically delicate area.
Australia, through AMSA, is working with the Solomon Islands Government as it manages the unfolding environmental disaster in Rennell.
Australian High Commissioner Rod Brazier said in a statement they have seen strong leadership from the Solomon Islands National Disaster Management Office and the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management and Meteorology.
He said as a close partner of Solomon Islands, Australia is exploring all options to assist the Solomon Islands Government to hold the responsible company, owners and insurers to account for this maritime incident.
Over the weekend, AMSA undertook overflight inspections of the vessel and supplied the findings to Solomon Islands’ authorities. AMSA has also deployed an expert to assist with the Solomon Islands Government’s next steps.
The team from AMSA assess that up to 60 tonnes of fresh heavy fuel oil is present at the site of MV Solomon Trader.
Meanwhile, the statement said AMSA also assess that the ship’s oil is expected to disperse more widely and be replaced with fresh active oil spills.
More than 600 tonnes of heavy fuel oil remains on the stricken vessel, which could continue to leak.
Secondary contamination remains a high concern as shipping for logging and bauxite mining operations continue alongside the MV Solomon Trader.
High Commissioner Brazier said Australia is extremely concerned at the scale of this disaster, the impact of this oil spill will have a devastating effect on the surrounding environment, including potentially on a protected UNESCO World Heritage site, as well as the livelihood of the people of Rennell.
He said they are very concerned about the circumstances that have led to this disaster.
The Australian High Commissioner said our friends in the Pacific, including the Solomon Islands Government, do not tolerate such reckless behaviour by companies.
By: Rickson Bau.