A cargo ship has run aground on a reef off the Solomon Islands. Oil flows into the sea and threatens rare species. The Hong Kong shipowners do not want to take responsibility.
For a month, the freighter MV Solomon Trader is already leaking off the Solomon Islands in the western Pacific. 75 tons of oil have entered the sea, but the natural disaster is not yet contained. On the contrary, other cargo ships operating in the region distribute the oil. The coral atoll of the East Rennell Islands is in danger. It is considered the largest in the world and is run by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
On the East Rennell Island, bauxite is mined, which is needed mainly for the production of aluminum. The cargo ship was loaded with the material when Cyclone “Granny” raged in the region in early February, leaving him on a coral reef.
It had been urgently warned before the cyclone. Solomon Islands’ maritime security director Jonah Mitau told that there had been a possible violation of international security measures. Too few staff kept watching during the night on the 4th of February. The investigators, in this case, would have interviewed all crew members. One is looking for someone responsible for the disaster. Four senior officers were asked to stay in the country. The rest of the crew was allowed to leave the Solomon Islands, Mitau said. The allegations made by him should, in any case, play a role in the legal dispute over the damage.
For now, however, the attention is on the natural disaster. The Solomon Islands Government asked Australia for help in containing the oil spill. Hong Kong shipowners South Express Ltd. And it’s South Korean insurer Korea P & I Club have not identified any signs of responsibility for the incident.
A company had been commissioned by the insurers to take care of the ship. But tidying up the oil spill could take months. In addition, there is a risk that the freighter breaks up and even more oil gets into the sea. In total, about 600 tons of oil should still be on board. To make matters worse, bauxite continues to be relocated to cargo ships in the bay, causing the oil in the sea to be thrown up and redistributed.
The environmental organization Greenpeace warns of devastating consequences for the wildlife. Some species (such as a sea snake species, bird, snail and bat species) occur only in the region. The oil spill in Lavangu Bay could severely threaten its existence. “The operators of the bauxite mine and the political leaders must now do everything in their power to minimize the consequences of this disaster,” said Lukas Meus, Meesexperte of Greenpeace Austria in a release cited.