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Solomon Islands: Oil spill impacts local communities' health, food sources & livelihood

A major oil spill in a remote region of the Solomon Islands is seriously impacting the health and livelihoods of local communities in the affected area. Residents in the remote region around Rennell Island, Solomon Islands, are also complaining of a heavy stench that is hindering breathing.

King Trader Ltd. (Hong Kong), owns the vessel involved in the incident which was transporting bauxite to China from a local mine operated by Bintan Mining Solomon Islands Ltd. Media reports about the incident are linked below. 

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited both the ship owner, King Trader, and miner, Bintan Mining Solomon Islands Ltd., to respond to these issues. Neither company responded to us. 

 

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Article
6 March 2019

Ship owner and insurer apologise for Solomons oil spill

Author: Radio New Zealand

6 March 2019

The insurer and owner of the ship responsible for one of Solomon Islands' worst man-made disasters have apologised to the people of the country.

...In a statement, the insurer, Korea P&I Club, and the owner, King Trading Ltd, apologised for the grounding and said they had deep remorse.

They said while matters of liability were still being determined, the spill had caused unnecessary coastal damage.

The statement said the response was slowed by Rennell's isolation, a loss of the ship's power, the looting of equipment and poor weather.

However, salvage crews were now working with experts deployed from around the world, it said.

Efforts to pump the remaining 600 tonnes of oil off the ship would begin as soon as a barge arrived from Vanuatu.

Read the full post here

Article
4 March 2019

Anger mounts at response to Solomons oil disaster

Author: Jamie Tahana, Radio New Zealand

4 March 2019

Efforts to avert an environmental catastrophe in a Solomon Islands world heritage area have intensified, as salvage crews begin efforts to pump about 600 tonnes of oil from a ship stranded on a reef.

...Solomon Trader...leaked about 100 tonnes of oil into the sea...creating an oil slick that extends about six kilometres from the wreckage.

The oil spill spells disaster for local communities in Kangava Bay, where hundreds of residents rely on the sea for their food and livelihoods. ...[R]esidents have told of a heavy stench that makes breathing difficult.

...Anger over how avoidable this environmental disaster was has been compounded by the response from shipping and mining companies involved...described as slow and evasive.

..The Hong Kong-flagged Solomon Trader arrived in Kangava Bay from the Chinese port city of Longkou on 5 February, when Cyclone Oma was churning its way through southern Solomon Islands and the north of Vanuatu.

...Despite the weather, the ship's crew started loading bauxite, the main mineral used in the production of aluminium, from a mine on Rennell operated by the company Bintan Mining Ltd.

...According to the governments of Solomon Islands, New Zealand and Australia, the responsibility for containing the spill, cleaning it up, and removing the wreckage, lies with the ship's owner, King Trading Ltd, its South Korean insurer, and the miner, Bintan Mining Ltd.

...Meanwhile, the oil spill was being stirred in the currents, Mr Singamoana said, leaving locals and officials to peel the sticky bitumen-like sludge from their white sand and rocks.

He said locals were being told to avoid seafood, their main protein source....

 

Read the full post here