8 March 2019
Solomon Islands : Nobody reportedly ready to take the blame for the oil spill disaster to a Unesco World Heritage Site
The Solomon Islands Caretaker Prime Minister, Rick Hou, today, Friday, 8 March, signaled that the advice of the Attorney-General had been sought on the legal implications following the grounding of the MV Solomons Trader on Kongobainiu reef. Mr. Hou also expressed the view that the controversial bauxite mining operation had had little, or no, impact on the country’s GDP since the mining and export shipments had began.
Also, today, it was reported that a private Solomon Islands citizen, had moved to suggest a Commission of Inquiry should be conducted into the shipping disaster and resulting oil spill.
Australia is said to be very concerned about the shipping incident and is aiding salvage operations and the removal of the remaining oil in the ship’s hull.
The environmental watchdog Greenpeace is outraged and as issued a statement saying the ship’s grounding and the oil spill a direct threat to the island and the 2,000 people in East Rennell.
The Solomon Times on Line publication carried a story today outlining what had occurred and titled the piece “Oil Spills: When do we Learn.”
Here is an extract from that article (quote)
“Just a few weeks ago, in Solomon Islands, a bulk carrier with 700 tonnes of oil in its belly ran aground on Kongobainiu reef in the tiny South Pacific country after it was caught in Cyclone Oma. The cargo ship, MV Solomons Trader, has a Hong Kong registration and is owned by an Indonesian mining company. The spill from the ship is now threatening life, work and environment at an environmentally sensitive and culturally important geography which is home to a protected Unesco World Heritage Site.
“Reports say the ship was carrying bauxite meant for producing aluminium when it met with the accident on Solomon Islands’ Rennell Island on February 5, gradually coughing out oil into the waters. Now environmentalists fear whether the spill would endanger East Rennell island which is the largest raised coral atoll in the world, according to UNESCO.
“Media reports show a thick oily blanket of tar spreading over the beaches, rockpools, logs and leaves. Further, the calamity has affected human activity in the region where the people cannot go out looking for work or food. There are reports of food shortage, health issues (people being burned after coming into contact with the oil while trying wash it away. Several people say they cannot sleep because of the smell.
“That’s where the fun is and the search for the baddie reflects the existing dilemmas in dealing with oil spills. To be fair, the ship’s operator, King Trader, dispatched a team to save the ship but its efforts didn’t bear much fruit. According to reports, Bintan Solomon Islands, the mining company that owned the oil, says it is not supposed to bear any responsibility for the spill. It is just a charter and has no liability for the shipping running aground. In sum, no one is ready to take the blame for a disaster that according to environmental watchdog Greenpeace is outrageous and a direct threat to the island and the 2,000 people living there.”
In another paragraph of the article relating to oil spills generally we read (quote)
This confusion and the game of passing-the-buck have been the hallmark of such calamities as history shows.