3 July 2019
Solomon Islands. Yet another disaster posing a health risk and environmental damage.
According to an article published in today’s Islands Sun newspaper, tones of raw bauxite has spilled into the ocean at Kangava Bay in West Rennell following a spill off from a barge being loaded with raw bauxite capsized on Monday.
Quoting the Islands Sun report it said:
“There were signs of raw bauxite spread along Kangava Bay as indicated on the surface of the bay which turned into reddish colour.
“The bauxite runoff comes from a barge that capsized while loading bauxite in the bay on Monday morning.
“The barge belongs to a controversial mining company, Bintan Mining Company (BMC).
“Kangava Bay has been the centre of attention in recent months after a bulk carrier, hired by BMC, wrecked in the bay on February 4 following strong winds by Cyclone Oma.
“The Hong Kong-flagged bulk carrier, MV Solomon Trader, spilled about 80 tonnes of oil into the pristine bay threatening marine life in the bay and people’s water sources.
“A major oil clean-up operation followed. The bulk carrier was successfully re-floated two months ago and towed back to Hong Kong via Papua New Guinea.
“It was a natural disaster that resulted in MV Solomon Trader’s grounding but there were attentions on the way the mining company operates in the remote island and the government’s role in protecting locals and their environment.
“As of yesterday, there were no sign of steps taken to reduce or neutralize the bauxite spill.
“It appears people living along the bay are not informed of the risks associated to bauxite ore. Children are seen swimming in the coast’s reddish sea.
“Attempts to get comments from the Mines Division of the Ministry of Mines, Energy and Rural Electrification were unsuccessful yesterday.
“Raw bauxite ore contains aluminum hydroxide, iron oxide, titanium oxide and reactive silica. These substances can have impact on human health and the environment particularly the aquatic life.”
Apart from the grounding of the MV Solomon Trader and the oil spill and environmental damage that incident caused, there was yet another incident of a foreign fishing boat having sunk towards the end of June in waters close to Makira Islands.
At that time there were fears ammonia gas trapped in the sunken ship could poison local fishing waters.
The provincial health director, John Selwyn Harara, said an initial assessment had uncovered an unknown amount of ammonia gas on board.
"The fear remains if it leaks, then it might cause further threat to the sea or to the salt water.