Big bill for Solomon spill
Experts are counting the cost of an oil spill from a bulk carrier run aground in the Solomon Islands.
Eighty tonnes of heavy fuel oil has leaked across an area next to a world heritage coral site on Rennell Island after the MV Soloman Trader bottomed out on a reef.
The ship was being loaded with bauxite from a nearby mine when a cyclone pushed it aground on a coral reef.
The ship’s Hong Kong owner, King Trader Ltd, has issued an apology, but has not accepted liability.
Australian Maritime Safety Authority officials have set up a four-tonne dynamic boom system to start cleaning up the oil from the sea surface.
More Australian vessels were en route with equipment over the weekend.
Companies involved with the Solomon Trader should take over the clean-up operations next week, and be pursued by Australian authorities for the cost of their clean-up efforts.
The Solomon Island’s caretaker prime minister, Rick Hou, has threatened to blacklist the companies involved in the leak.
“My government is prepared to go as far as putting the companies on a black list internationally if they do not take on their responsibilities,” he told reporters.
The Solomon Islands maritime safety administration has heard allegations of a “lack of a crew posted on lookout/watch during that night”, and will investigate.
It is the second time the same vessel has run aground.
In 2002, the Solomon Trader was the Greek-flagged Doric Chariot, which hit Piper Reef in the world-heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef while hauling coal from Mackay to India.