The grounded bulker Solomon Trader has spilled an estimated 60 tonnes of fuel oil onto a sensitive reef on Rennell Island, the southernmost island in the Solomons. She has an estimated 600 tonnes remaining on board, raising the possibility of additional pollution before salvage efforts are completed.
Rennell is located about 100 nm due south of Guadalcanal, and its eastern half is a protected UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Trader went aground in foul weather while she was operating near her port of loading, a bauxite mine on Rennell’s Lavangu Bay. The mine operator and the government of the Solomon Islands have come under fire from environmental groups for the bauxite operation’s alleged role in the casualty. Read on.