Oil spill adjacent to UNESCO World Heritage site, Solomon Islands

Minister for Foreign Affairs Senator the Hon Marise Payne

As a close friend to Solomon Islands, Australia remains extremely concerned by the ongoing risk of a major oil spill from the grounded bauxite bulk carrier MV Solomon Trader.

Rennell Island is home to a UNESCO listed World Heritage site and the people of Rennell rely on the ocean and natural resources of the Island for their livelihoods.

Australian experts from the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) deployed last week to assist the Solomon Islands Government to confirm ongoing oil leakage from the vessel. Up to 75 tonnes of heavy fuel oil from the ship has dispersed across the Island’s sea and shoreline, contaminating the ecologically delicate area. More than 600 tonnes of heavy fuel oil remains on the stricken vessel.

Given escalating ecological damage, and a lack of action by commercial entities involved, the Solomon Islands Government has requested Australia’s assistance. In response, we are mobilising an offshore pollution mitigation operation, including equipment, vessels and specialised personnel, under the leadership of AMSA and working alongside the Solomon Islands government’s own efforts.

Australia continues to stand behind the Solomon Islands Government’s efforts to ensure that commercial parties responsible for this incident take action and are held responsible.

Australians and our neighbours across the Pacific know the economic and environmental importance of our oceans. We expect companies operating in our region to meet international standards and take seriously their environmental obligations.

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